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In regard to all statements made in this work 
concerning the holiness of its characters, humble 
submission is acknowledged to the judgment of 
the Church and especially to the decrees of Urban 
VIII and other Sovereign Pontiffs. 


THE true measure of greatness is sanctity. Very often it 
requires but little ability to lead on earth a life of achieve- 
ment, crowned with honor, fame, or even riches. But to 
weave into the pattern of everyday existence the thread of 
eternal glory, to give to the mortal things of life the 
triumph of immortality, this is sanctity, and the sanctity 
that turns the world-scarred cabins of the soul into palaces 
of the King. It is the greatness of the saints. 

He only is great, says Lavater, who, "after performing 
what none in ten thousand could accomplish, passes on like 
Samson, and 'tells neither father nor mother of it. J " Be- 
cause of this silence the world knows little of its greatest 
men, and still less of its greatest women. If this is so in 
regard to life in general, how much more true is it of those 
whose lives are hidden with Christ in God? 

Cardinal Newman tells us that "hid are the saints of 
God." Sometimes, however, it is good for us to lift the veil 
that hides them from our eyes so that we may see some- 
thing of their greatness, something of their sanctity. From 
this glimpse of eternity we perceive the power of silence and 
the value of humility; we see the glorified state of those 
who on earth made themselves unknown for Christ. We 
realize that the failures in such lives were only in the seem- 
ing and that their triumphs alone remain. We see the vic- 
tory of Calvary, and the majesty of Tabor. We behold 
God Himself ! 

To lift the veil that hides a number of America's great- 
est women is the purpose of this volume. While engaged 



in the preparation of a work of a similar nature I was 
urged to select a few of the oustanding American foun- 
dresses and present their biographies within the covers of 
one book. The selection was by no means an easy one. Any 
attempt to compress in one volume all of this kind of Ameri- 
can hagiography would be too great an undertaking. Hence 
a choice had to be made; not a narrowed choice, but one 
that might well display the beginnings of the American 
sisterhoods through the life stories of their foundresses. It 
was of necessity that a number of the biographies had to be 
omitted; they will be given treatment later in a second 
volume. Especially had I hoped to include that of Mother 
Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed 
Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. The story of 
Mother Katharine's life reveals her as one of America's 
greatest women. But her humility prompted her to refuse 
the honor of having her biography appear with those "of 
the saintly women who have already passed to their eternal 

Three of the foundresses whose biographies follow lived 
and died on the banks of the St. Lawrence. But their zeal 
has reached across the boundaries of Canada into many 
sections of the United States, where the work of their 
spiritual daughters has made them known and venerated 
these many years past. 

The student will find in this work no detailed references 
to the documents upon which each biography is builded. 
In this I have kept in mind the average reader who prefers 
an uninterrupted narrative, since it is for him that this work 
is principally intended. Yet each biography has been pre- 
pared from original documents in the archives of the respec- 
tive community of each foundress. All of these documents 
are available for purposes of verification. 

I deeply appreciate the cooperation of those who in any 
way contributed to this work. In many cases the records 


were so meager that at first it seemed impossible to gather 
'sufficient material to warrant a representative biography. 
Like many others who toiled in the building of the early 
American church, the sisters of those days were too intent 
upon the task at hand to leave in written form the testimony 
of their labors. But from the most jejune records which in 
some way or other refer to the past achievements of these 
women, it was possible, with the aid of certain sisters of the 
community claiming the subject of the study as their foun- 
dress, to construct the story of how God was with these 
pioneer American religious in all their undertakings. In 
some instances the material furnished was so complete and 
the arrangement of it so satisfactory that it is being pre- 
sented in much the same form as it was submitted to me. 
With each of the following I gladly share any merit that 
might accrue from the propagation of Great American 

Mother Dugas, Superior General of the Grey Nuns of 
Montreal; her assistant, Mother McKenna; as well as 
Mother Verecunda, of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, 
for the data on Mother d'Youville. Mother Seraphim of 
the Holy Spirit, Prioress of the Carmelite Monastery of 
Baltimore; and Mother Aloysius of Our Lady of Good 
Counsel, Prioress of the Bettendorf Carmel, for the in- 
formation given in the Mother Clare Joseph Dickinson 
biography. Mother Paula, Superior of the American Sis- 
ters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; and Sister Mary 
Augustine, both of St. Joseph's College, Emmitsburg, Mary- 
land, for the Mother Seton material. Sister Mary An- 
tonella, Loretto Mother House, Nerinx, Kentucky, for the 
matter that went to make up the Mother Mary Rhodes 
chapter. Mother Catherine, Superior General of the Sis- 
ters of Charity of Nazareth; Sister Mary Joseph; and Sis- 
ter Mary Ignatius, all of the Nazareth Mother House, 
Nazareth, Kentucky, for the Mother Catherine Spalding 


biography. Mother Jane Frances, Superior of the George- 
town Convent of the Visitation, for the facts about Mother 
Teresa Lalor's life. Mother Marjory Erskine, of the 
Maryville College of the Sacred Heart, S't. Louis, whose 
notable work, Mother Philippine Duchesne^ is the classic 
biography of the foundress of the American Religious of 
the Sacred Heart, for the chapter on this sainted woman. 
Mother Bernadette; and Sister Mary Bernard, of St. Cath- 
erine's Dominican Convent, Springfield, Kentucky, for the 
Mother Angela Sansbury material. Sister Mary Lamber- 
tina, of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed- Virgin Mary, 
of St. Joseph's Convent, Mount Carmel, Dubuque, Iowa, 
whose book, In the Early Days, provided the chapter on 
Mother Clarke. Mother M. Raphael, Superior General 
of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods; and 
Sister M. Viola, of the same community, for the Mother 
Theodore Guerin data. Mother Vincent Ferrer, Provin- 
cial Superior of the Sisters of Charity of Providence, Seattle, 
Washington, for the Mother Gamelin information. Sister 
Ignatia, of Manchester, New Hampshire, and Sister Mary 
Dolores, of New York City, both of the Sisters of Mercy, 
for the Mother Warde material. Sister Mary Gilbert, of 
the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, for the 
data on Mother Durocher. Mother Mary Felix, Ameri- 
can Provincial of the Religious of the Holy Child Jesus, 
Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania, for the biography of Mother 
Connelly. Sister Angela Lincoln, of the Ursulines of Mon- 
tana, for the valuable information about her colaborer in 
Montana and Alaska, Mother Mary Amadeus of the Heart 
of Jesus. And finally Mother Rose Huber, for the mate- 
rial that made possible the chapter on Mother Alhponsa 
Lathrop, of the Dominican Sisters, Servants of Relief for 
Incurable Cancer. 

My thanks are extended to the America Press, Long- 
mans, Green & Co., and to the Universal Knowledge 


Foundation, for their courtesy in allowing me to use mate- 
rial for which they hold the copyright. 

To the Right Reverend Henry P. Rohlman, D.D., Bishop 
of Davenport, and my Ordinary, I wish to express my 
gratitude for the honor he has done me in writing the 
Introduction to this volume. 

The life story of a faithful servant of God has often been 
the starting point in holiness for some of the world's great- 
est saints. I hope that the account of these women, great 
and saintly all, will stir up in countless souls a like courage; 
that it will fill their lamps with a divine love to light the 
way of the Bridegroom in a world that is dark with sin 
and sorrow. 


March 25, 1929. 

Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 
St. Ambrose College, Davenport, Iowa. 


THE inventions and discoveries of the past one hundred 
years have wrought great changes in the daily life of the 
present generation. But nowhere have the changes been 
more apparent than in our own United States. Where 
to-day the latest conveniences of living and travel have revo- 
lutionized the daily program of the average American, a 
century ago a simple existence was eked out in cabins of 
logs amid the maze of virgin forests. Hence it is good for 
us who live in a world of comforts and pleasures undreamed 
of by our forefathers to consider the significance of this 
great change, especially in its effect upon our spiritual being. 
The life stories of the men and women of pioneer days in 
the New World are not only full of interest and edification, 
but they are in reality spiritual sedatives which tend to keep 
us self-possessed and clear-visioned in the dizzy and dis- 
tracting activities of modern movements. There was, in- 
deed, action aplenty in the old days; but then the occupa- 
tions and absorbing interests of men were of a sort to 
strengthen character, to harden against fatigue and suffer- 
ing, to spur on to generous labor and self-sacrifice. The 
account of the heroic men and women who dared and 
labored under circumstances that developed the finest qual- 
ities of soul cannot but inspire the men and women of our 
own day to emulation. 

Among the truly great women of pioneer days none are 
more deserving of niches in the Hall of Fame than those 
who were the foundresses of religious communities for 
women in early America. The biographies of some of the 



saintly women have been .written at length by competent 
and sympathetic historians. But of others, little has been 
recorded and little told. It was a happy thought, indeed, 
that inspired Father Code to gather up the fragments of 
the life stories of the little known and to present them with 
the accounts of those whose achievements have already 
been told at greater length. Within one volume he has in 
this way made accessible to all the wonderful story of prac- 
tically every one of our great American foundresses. In 
his foreword the author declares: "To lift the veil that 
hides a number of America's greatest women is the purpose 
of this volume." This is a laudable purpose, and one that 
deserves special commendation. 

The sixteen chapters of this book tell of sixteen valiant 
women of profound faith, ceaseless activity, heroic self- 
sacrifice, and inspiring holiness. If it is true that examples 
rather than words impel to invitation, here is a volume that 
should do much good for the Church in America. 

This work, no doubt, will be well received in many quar- 
ters. Members of all religious communities will welcome a 
book compressing within the covers of one volume informa- 
tion they have often desired concerning sisterhoods other 
than their own. For these pen pictures do reveal the spirit 
of each foundress and, as a consequence, give much of the 
spirit of her own respective institute. Moreover, the 
spiritual daughters of the one whose biography has been 
accorded a place in this symposium will be happy to see 
included therein the life of her whom they have learned to 
venerate as a mother. To all religious, however, the read- 
ing of these chapters will give an impetus to renewed efforts 
in their strivings for personal sanctification and in their zeal 
for the salvation of souls. For this book is not a mere col- 
lection of names and dates and isolated facts; it is far more 
than that. It is an intimate revelation of the inner work- 
ings of truly great souls, whose ambitions, hopes, failures, 


disappointments, sorrows and. joys are told simply and 
briefly. And what is more inspiring than the simple story 
of a great soul I 

Priests, especially, will find this book useful. How often 
is not information asked of them about certain sisterhoods, 
their purpose, work, rule, and spirit ! Here, then, is a book 
of facts of the right sort, for it not only informs, but at 
the same time inspires sympathetic understanding and 

But this work's chief claim for recognition is, undoubt- 
edly, the boon it offers to priests and sisters alike in their 
efforts to awaken and encourage vocations to the religious 
life. That there is a great need for such inspiration and 
encouragement no one will deny. Many a parish priest 
realizes full well this truth when he endeavors to open a 
new school or tries to secure additional sisters for the one 
already established. Often he finds his efforts fruitless, be- 
cause of the lack of laborers in the service of the Savior! 
There is not a religious community in America to-day that 
is not praying for more vocations. Many more sisters are 
needed, not only to meet the demands created by the erec- 
tion of new institutions of charity and learning, but also to 
answer the calls for additional subjects to replace in those 
already established the laborers who have spent their lives 
for the Master. We may hope that Great American Foun- 
dresses will do an apostolic work in inspiring many young 
women to give their lives to their Blessed Lord and Savior 
in some religious household. 

The laity, too, will profit by the reading of these intensely 
interesting biographies of American women. Not only will 
they come to a better understanding of a sister's life, but 
they will more fully realize the facts that the hardships and 
privations and sacrifices which our forefathers suffered for 
the sake of religion in the pioneer days of our country were 
borne bravely and gladly because of their intense love of 


Jesus Christ arid their unshakable faith in the divine mis- 
sion of His Church. 

We trust that the zealous labors that have produced this 
timely book will yield an abundant harvest in many hearts, 
of faith and hope and selfless love. 


Bishop of Davenport 
The Bishop's House, Davenport 
March 19, 1929 
Feast of Saint Joseph 







Of the Grey Nuns of Montreal. 


Of the Carmelites of Maryland. 


Of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. 


Of the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. 


Of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. 


Of the Nuns of the Visitation of Georgetown. 


Of the Religious of the Sacred Heart. 


Of the Dominicans of Kentucky. 


Of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 


Of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of -the- Woods. 





Of the Sisters of Charity of Providence. 


Of the Sisters of Mercy. 


Of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. 


Of the Religious of the Holy Child Jesus. 

Of the Ursulines of Montana and Alaska. 


Of the Dominican Sisters, Servants of Relief for Incurable 


INDEX 503 



Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton 7O 

Mother Catherine Spalding 15^ 

Mother Philippine Duchesne 206 

Mother Cornelia Connelly 4^ 

Mother A made us of the Heart of Jesus 437 




To an age which yields homage to the hidden Saint of 
Lisieux sheltered in her cloister home, to the humble Cure 
D'Ars of quiet countryside, and to the ecstatic Apostle of 
devotion of the Divine Heart of Paray-le-Monial, the figure 
of Venerable Mother d'Youville, as she braved the perils 
of early Canadian life, struggled with governors and King 
in the interests of her beloved poor, and served humanity 
with invincible love and patience in its countless needs, pre- 
sents at first a sharp contrast. Reflection, however, reveals 
the similarity that characterizes all lovers of the Crucified. 
The Little Flower's burning desire to spend herself in serv- 
ice was, in the providence of God, actualized in the career 
of Mother d' Youville. The gentle priest of the lowly shared 
with her his eagerness to spread God's Word among the 
poor. And finally, Saint Margaret Mary had in her an 
ardent disciple who was a pioneer in introducing into Mont- 
real the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Mother d'Youville was of heroic ancestry. Her father, 
Christopher Dufrost de Lajammerais, a gentleman of 
Brittany who had come to Canada in the service of the 
French King, was distinguished in the campaigns then di- 
rected against the deadly Iroquois. Honors came to him 
rapidly, for his name was synonymous with loyalty, truth, 
and courage. Letters to the mother country spoke of him 
in high praise. The Marchioness of Vaudreuil, wife of the 
governor-general, writing to the minister of marine, said: 
U M. de Lajammerais has served with distinction in the war 
against the Iroquois, running the risk many times of being 


taken prisoner and burnt alive by these barbarians." He 
fought his way to a lieutenancy, and in January, 1701, this 
intrepid soldier was united in marriage with Marie, the 
daughter of Rene Gauthier de Varennes. Her grandfather, 
Pierre Boucher de Boucherville, was formerly Governor of 
Three Rivers, to which position De Varennes succeeded, 
shortly after his daughter's marriage. Thus were united 
families distinguished for public service, and to their chil- 
dren were bequeathed those sterling qualities that make for 
good citizenship. Two of the sons of this marriage became 
priests and another accompanied their celebrated uncle, the 
explorer, Pierre Gauthier de Varennes, who discovered the 
Red River and the Assiniboine. The Grey Nuns, founded 
by the niece of this explorer, arrived one hundred years 
later, in 1 844, on the banks of the Red River to devote their 
lives to the service of the poor Indians. Three daughters 
were born of this marriage, Marie Louise, who married 
Ignace Gamelin, Marie Clemence, who became Madame 
Gamelin Maugras, and Marie Marguerite, later to become 
one of America's great foundresses. The first great-grand- 
son, known as Archbishop Tache, was the first to be ele- 
vated to the archepiscopal dignity in Manitoba. In the 
words of Count de Palys, he "added to the honor of the old 
Breton lineage of the de Lajammerais family the lofty dis- 
tinction of a prince of the Church." 

Into this noble, pious family, the Foundress of the Grey 
Nun Congregation, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de Lajam- 
merais, was born on October 15, 1701. God watched care- 
fully over her early formation, framing at once the nature 
of her environment and the tenderly wise desires of her 
mother to arouse in the child early in life the love of God 
and of His poor, united with unfailing fidelity to duty. 
When she was but seven years of age, her father died, leav- 
ing Madame de Lajammerais to wage daily battle with the 
proverbial wolf at the door. Through the influence of the 


governor-general, the Marquis de Vandreuil, she obtained 
from the French King a pension of fifty pounds, the usual 
grant to officers' widows. Monsieur Raudot, the Intendant, 
and other friends came to her rescue, and through their 
assistance Madame de Lajammerais was able to send her 
eldest child, Marie Marguerite, to the Ursuline Convent in 
Quebec for two years. 

The little girl, though but eleven years of age, left her 
home bravely to study far from the mother and the people 
she loved so fondly. How her mother must have missed 
the sweet little companion of her sorrows and her joys, 
the child-woman whose inherent might of soul was already 
manifesting itself in self-sacrifice and thought of others. 
Her teachers grew to love the girl. In the annals of the 
Ursuline Nuns of Quebec is contained the following: 

One of the most distinguished of our pupils of that 
period was Mademoiselle Dufrost de Lajammerais. 
She came to us in her eleventh year, gentle, religious, 
candid, and intelligent; and soon she won the sympathy 
of us all. She never lost a moment herself, and if she 
noticed less assiduity among her companions, she 
merely said : "These young ladies are better off than L 
I have no father and my poor mother is anxiously 
awaiting my return home.' 1 Whereupon she redoubled 
her activity in her studies. . . . After remaining with 
us for two years, Mademoiselle de Lajammerais re- 
turned to her home, where her mother needed that 
angel of consolation. 

In the light of future events, the following excerpt from 
the same annals has peculiar significance: 

From some mysterious intuition of the future life 
of Mademoiselle de Lajammerais, one of her teachers 
gave her u The Holy Way of the Cross," by Father 
Boudon, thus preparing her for the life of suffering 
that awaited her. 


When she had returned home, she proved a source of 
comfort and strength to her mother and so wise a little 
counselor of brothers and sisters that her biographer, Father 
Sattin, remarks that it would be difficult to realize to what 
an extent she lightened her mother's task in the care of the 
other children. Her gifts, her sound judgment, her serious 
evaluation of life, won for her the respect and the confi- 
dence of all ; while the simplicity of her manners, the sweet- 
ness of her disposition, and the extreme kindness of her 
heart which could leave unalleviated no suffering she met, 
made her a magnetic personality destined to achieve great 
things in her service of her neighbor. 

As a young woman, her charm made her a social leader 
among the young people of Varennes. Many admirers 
sought her hand in marriage, and in 1722 she became the 
wife of Monsieur Francis-Magdalen d'Youville. He pos- 
sessed a large fortune and was considered one of the hand- 
somest men of Montreal. Quite naturally therefore her 
friends, at the wedding which took place in the parish church 
in Montreal August 12, predicted a life of happiness for the 
young bride. But bitter disappointment awaited her; instead 
of happiness in her new life, she found only sorrow and hu- 
miliation. Dwelling far from her own family, in the home of 
a mother-in-law so irritable through age that visitors were 
practically excluded from the house, the young bride was 
as solitary as a nun in her cloister, continual association with 
a peevish and capricious old lady not tending to enliven it. 
The mother-in-law died at the end of a few years, leaving 
a considerable fortune. Madame d'Youville looked for 
happier days now, but God had another cross in store for 
her. Her husband squandered in frivolity not only his own 
fortune but hers as well, so that she was obliged to have 
recourse to manual labor to support her family. Monsieur 
d'Youville was of a cold nature, and looked with equal in- 
difference on the distress he caused his wife and on the 


bodily infirmities to which she was subjected. Madame 
d'Youville bore all with unfailing patience. Not only she 
never reproached her husband, but she even preserved intact 
her kindness toward him. 

At first she did not know the sweetness of adversity ; but 
after five years of married life, won by the secret inspira- 
tion of grace, convinced at last that God alone was her con- 
solation and support, she determined to renounce wholly 
the vanities of the world and to embrace a devout life. For 
this purpose, she placed herself under the direction of Mon- 
sieur de Lescoat, a Sulpician and the parish priest of Mont- 
real, whom Providence had selected to be her guide on the 
road of perfection. 

She had been leading this life of perfection for three 
years when her husband died unexpectedly on July 4, 1730, 
leaving her burdened with debts and the care of their two 
boys, sole survivors of six children. Nothing could embit- 
ter her soul or shake her confidence in God. She set to 
work with characteristic energy, opened a small store, and, 
while watching over the education of her sons, both of 
whom God honored by calling them to the priesthood, she 
paid off the debts left by her husband and gave unremitting 
consolation and material assistance to the poor, the sick, the 
prisoners, even courageously soliciting alms to bury crim- 
inals. Every morning she heard mass; every afternoon 
she visited the Blessed Sacrament. Deeper and deeper grew 
her tender love of the Eternal Father, a devotion that 
remains to this day with her Grey Nun daughters a cher- 
ished legacy of spiritual treasure. 

One day, when talking over her heavy debts and other 
anxieties with her director, Monsieur de Lescoat, he said: 
"Be consoled, child. God calls you to do a great work, and 
to raise up a falling house." His words were a prophecy. 
The great work was the founding of her Congregation; 
the falling house was the General Hospital of Montreal, 


restored by her and now known from coast to coast. Father 
de Lescoat died in 1733, and another Sulpician became the 
promoter of his apostolate, one whose name is forever 
blessed and revered by the Grey Nuns, the venerated Father 
Louis Normant. Of clear vision, keen prudence, calm 
judgment, and sound virtue, he was fitted to be the inter- 
preter of God's will to Madame d'Youville in the series 
of trials her Eternal Father sent her. Father Normant 
agreed with the decision of his predecessor that Madame 
d'Youville was the instrument prepared by Divine Provi- 
dence to rebuild the General Hospital, at that time under 
the care of the five surviving members of a Community of 
Hospitalers founded by Monsieur Charon forty years be- 
fore, a charitable association now on the verge of ruin. 

With the advice of her director, Madame d'Youville re- 
ceived into her home on December 31, 1737, several poor 
persons. This movement appealed to Mademoiselle Louise 
Thamur-Lasource, the daughter of a Montreal physician. 
Two other young women followed soon, Mesdemoiselles 
Catherine Cusson and Catherine Demers. Firm in their 
purpose and encouraged by the approbation of Father Nor- 
mant who, as vicar-general, spoke in the name of the Bishop 
of Quebec, they rented a house and, with five poor persons, 
took possession of it, October 31, 1738. 

Their first act in their new home was to kneel before a 
statue of the Blessed Virgin, begging her to accept their 
promise to serve to the end of their lives the most 
abandoned members of her Divine Son. A prayer and a 
few words of encouragement from Father Normant con- 
cluded the simple ceremony which constituted the humble 
beginning of the Grey Nuns of to-day. 

In the rule of the Congregation it is written that no 
work shall prosper save under the shadow of the Cross. 
Such was the legacy left the Grey Nuns by their Foundress, 
whose life from childhood to the grave was marked by 


suffering, trial and sorrow. The little Congregation was 
made at once the object of persecution. The sisters were 
ridiculed, even stoned in the streets. On one occasion, the 
Sacraments were denied them. The citizens drew up a 
petition to the Minister of Marine, protesting against 
Madame d'Youville and her foundation, a petition which 
had been signed by Monsieur de Beauharnais, the Governor, 
and the principal citizens of Montreal. Meekly, humbly, 
charitably, the Grey Nuns pursued their work, ever increas- 
ing the amount of their help to the poor. The opposition 
was allayed and difficulties seemed to be vanishing, when 
Madame d'Youville was reduced to inactivity by an infec- 
tion of the knee. Only after seven years was she miracu- 
lously cured, as was testified by her companions. 

The death of Sister Catherine Cusson proved a new trial, 
while the serious illness of Father Normant, following soon 
after, put to a severe test the trust of Madame d'Youville 
in Divine Providence. However, her confidence in no 
way abated, she made a special promise to the Eternal 
Father for the recovery of the friend and protector of the 
little community, and he was almost instantly cured. To 
fulfill her promise, Madame d'Youville ordered from 
France a painting of the Eternal Father which is still extant 
and cherished in the Grey Nunnery of Montreal. 

Scarcely had her joy quieted when the house of the sis- 
ters was completely destroyed by fire during the night of 
January 31, 1745, leaving the inmates without a roof to 
shelter them. While the flames devoured the home, 
Madame d'Youville, as a real mother of the poor, appar- 
ently unconscious of the suffering she endured, standing 
barefoot in the snow, gathered the poor unfortunate ones 
around her and tried to comfort them. Up to that day, the 
sisters had retained personal possession of their goods, 
using in common only the income from their sewing. Stand- 
ing in the snow, gazing on the smoking ruins that January 


night, Madame cTYouville said to her companions: "We 
have lived in too much ease. Perhaps we have been too 
fond of earthly comforts. For the future, let us live more 
poorly, holding all in common. 1 ' Two days after, the act 
of renouncement was drawn up and signed by Madame 
cTYouville and her companions. It is still kept in the 
archives of the Hospital and is signed by each sister making 
profession. It registers the promise to leave the world, to 
devote life and time and labor to the care of the poor, to 
transfer to them all worldly possessions, and to live bound 
by charity and obedience under a common rule. 

Monsieur Fonblanche, a rich merchant of the town, pro- 
vided the sisters at once with a house. Other charitable 
persons gave them beds and all urgently needed furniture, 
while the Seminary supplied them with food for over fifteen 
months. In a short time, the house proved too small for 
themselves and the poor they received, and so they moved 
to a larger one which they rented for three years. Mon- 
sieur de Beaucourt, Governor of Montreal, who had always 
opposed Madame d'Youville's institution, decided to take 
this same house as his residence. With no excuse save that 
the house was better adapted for a governor's home than 
for a hospital, he ordered the sisters to leave, threatening 
to call out the troops if they resisted. They were obliged 
to yield, accepting temporary shelter from a kind friend, 
Madame de Lacorne. They settled finally in a house near 
the parish church of Notre Dame. 

While the sisters were struggling against misunderstand- 
ing and injustice meted out to them by the civil authorities, 
Father Normant was using his influence to increase their 
field of usefulness by obtaining for them the direction of 
the General Hospital. He had explained, on several occa- 
sions, to the Governor-General and the Intendant, how 
much good would thereby accrue to the people of Montreal. 
Powerful influences, however, were at work against him. 


He was accused of dissuading young men from joining the 
Community of Hospitalers. This was an absurd charge, 
for the brotherhood had been forbidden for years to receive 
new members, because it was incapable of imparting the 
religious spirit to novices, even of providing them with 
necessary sustenance. Father Normant's battle and that 
of Madame d'Youville was wearisome. A journey to Que- 
bec to visit governor or intendant was a serious undertak- 
ing; a reference to Versailles, appealing to the King, meant 
a delay of five or six months. But both were employed. 
Louis XV, however, was not eager to establish a new com- 
munity of nuns in Canada, for, were it not self-supporting, it 
might tax the royal purse strings. 

Tedious correspondence and wearisome delays finally 
drove the authorities in Canada to desperate action. When 
the news that the new governor had been made prisoner 
by the English reached them, they accepted the Hospitalers 7 
resignation and offered Madame d'Youville the temporary 
administration of the Hospital with the promise, however, 
that if she accepted they would use their influence with the 
King to have the institution placed permanently in her 
charge. She was to receive, and account for, the revenues 
of the Hospital. The repairs that were deemed necessary 
in the judgment of experts were to be made; and she, her 
companions, their poor, and the two aged brothers, survivors 
of the Hospitalers and left to the care of sisters, were to be 
provided for out of the revenues of the Hospital at the 
public expense. 

On entering on the administration of the Hospital, 
Madame d'Youville had more than twelve hundred panes of 
glass restored to the windows. She then began to provide 
clothing for the poor and to prepare wards for the aged, 
for incurables, for the orphans, for epileptics, for soldiers, 
for the insane, in fine for all classes of sufferers who ap- 
pealed to her for relief. Her large-hearted charity knew 


no bounds. She realized that no refuge existed for fallen 
women; they too had souls for which the Savior died. 
Madame dTouville had twelve rooms in the upper part of 
the Hospital prepared for this purpose. No threat, no 
menace, evoked by this action of hers, influenced her in any 
way. Among other instances of her intrepidity is that re- 
lated by her son, Reverend Charles dTouville. A soldier, 
enraged at finding the unhappy victim of his passions taken 
from him, went to the Hospital, armed, intending to kill 
Madame d'Youville. One of the community warned her, 
begging her to seek safety in flight; but she went directly to 
meet the youth w T hom her unassuming yet courageous air so 
completely intimidated that he withdrew without even 
speaking to her. 

So entirely did Madame d'Youville transform the Hos- 
pital that many ladies in comfortable circumstances re- 
quested the privilege of living there as boarders. 

As yet the sisters dressed as secular persons, but in reality 
they were religious. The hours of rising and retiring to 
rest, the observance of silence, vocal and mental prayer, 
reading and other spiritual exercises, the common table, the 
service of the poor all were regulated with precision. In 
their intercourse with one another, the sisters were cordial, 
deferential, and courteous; toward strangers, considerate 
and kind. In the difficult matter of paying visits, they al- 
lowed themselves to be guided by the prudent counsels of 
her, more mother than superior, to whom they yielded im- 
plicit obedience. They exercised continual humility of heart 
and mortification of the senses, the root and source of the 
highest virtue. A holy emulation in the path of religious 
perfection produced that childlike and candid simplicity 
that banishes affectation and egoism. The esteem in which 
they held poverty, obedience, and chastity was such that 
they had privately bound themselves by vow to strictest 
observance of these virtues. They kept alive these excellent 


dispositions by frequent retreats, by fidelity to spiritual 
exercises, and by the daily practice of virtue. Their exem- 
plary lives and, above all, their charitable devotion to the 
service of the poor, were the causes which led to the con- 
sideration and respect that all now felt for Madame 
d'Youville and her companions. 

Perhaps no other period in the life of this venerable 
foundress shows to better advantage her splendid courage 
in the face of difficulties, her implicit confidence in the 
Eternal Father, than the time of storm and strife conse- 
quent upon her taking possession, even though but tempo- 
rarily, of the General Hospital. The neglect, misunder- 
standing, and injustice with which the authorities treated 
her, met from her such determined gentleness, patient per- 
severance, and undaunted persistency that only one who 
labored for God's love alone could have displayed such 

Her far-visioned plans, with the scope of the improve- 
ments implied, frightened the authorities both in Canada 
and at the Court. Monsieur Bigot, the new intendant, had 
visited the Hospital on his arrival and had expressed his 
satisfaction in everything he saw. Some time later, how- 
ever, realizing the hostile attitude of the Court toward new 
communities and influenced to no small extent by the liber- 
tines of Montreal, he made up his mind to expel Madame 
d'Youville and her companions from the Hospital. The 
Court, influenced by economic reasons, desired the union 
of the General Hospital of Quebec with the Hotel Dieu of 
the same city, and the corresponding union in Montreal. 
The Bishop, desiring to safeguard old communities, sought 
a middle course in the fusion of the Hospital of Montreal 
with that of Quebec. 

Father Normant, ever on the alert, learned what was 
going forward, and petitioned at once the Bishop, the Gov- 
ernor-General, and the Intendant, explaining the serious 


loss to the poor of Montreal that such an action would 
entail. The Bishop was won and promised to write the 
French Minister. The Governor-General, Monsieur dt 
Lajonquiere, did not take an active interest in the affair but 
allowed the Intendant, Monsieur Bigot, to rule the situa- 
tion. Monsieur Bigot's determination to effect the union 
was impeturbable. Just a glance at his daring interpreta- 
tion of Court orders assures us that he was ready to risk 
much to insure Madame d'Youville's loss. The French 
Minister's reply authorized the union of the hospitals in the 
name of His Majesty, but did not authorize the sale of 
buildings and possessions of the General Hospital and the 
surrender of the proceeds to the Quebec Community. The 
Minister's letter to the Bishop of Quebec was even more 
vague: 4t lf the Quebec Hospital suffices not for all the sick 
in the colony, the Montreal Hospital may be reduced to an 
infirmary in care of two or three nuns from Quebec.' 1 How- 
ever decision marked the Canadian, if not the Court, 
authorities. The former, boldly construing the Court 
orders, even beyond the phrases used, decreed the suppres- 
sion of the Montreal Hospital. An ordinance to this effect 
was signed on October 15, 1750, but with subtle skill the 
public proclamation was postponed until the last boat of the 
year had sailed for France. On November 23, 1750, the 
public crier published it in the streets of Montreal with the 
solemnity of drums and trumpets attendant on such an 
occasion. The ordinance ruled that all the property, mov- 
able and immovable, of the General Hospital be transferred 
to the Religious of the Hospital of Quebec. These latter 
were to have the privilege of selling the buildings at Mont- 
real with all movables of too little value to be transported 
to Quebec. 

The morning of the proclamation Madame d'Youville 
had gone to make some purchases at the market. As she 


returned, she was astounded to hear her name repeated 
several times by the public crier. She listened and learned 
The decree. It was a heavy blow, a public humiliation, an 
apparent overthrow of all the efforts she had made. Yet 
her heroic soul received the new cross calmly, submissively, 
patiently. Hers was the dynamic force of the electric cur- 
rent, silent, invisible, but irresistible, for she trusted God. 

The people, now thoroughly appreciative of her efforts, 
murmured loudly against the authorities, A petition, drawn 
up by Father Normant, was signed at once by the principal 
citizens of Montreal, the Governor, Monsieur de Longueuil, 
the priests of the Seminary, the King's lieutenant, the mayor, 
the officers and magistrates, all eager to emphasize the ex- 
pression of injustice done the poor by removing the Hos- 
pital built for their use, and that inflicted on the founders 
and benefactors by frustrating the good work to which they 
had contributed. The illegality of the ordinance was ex- 
plained in the petition, for, ten years before the Hospital 
was originally established, Louis XIV had promised that it 
should be permanent in Montreal and that it could not be 
converted into any other pious work than that contemplated 
at the time of its foundation. 

Indefatigable in her firm, though gentle, resistance to in- 
justice, Madame d'Youville undertook a journey to Quebec, 
though the distance was long, traveling difficult, and the 
weather inclement. She was favorably received by the 
Governor-General who acknowledged he had signed the 
ordinance in deference to Monsieur Bigot, without realizing 
the injustice done the poor of Montreal. He wrote soon 
after, in this tenor, to the French Minister. Monsieur 
Bigot, however, remained unchanged. He treated her 
Larshly and unjustly, declining to accept her accounts, and 
demanding that she sow the crops on the farms belonging 
to the Hospital before surrendering them to the religious of 


Quebec. Madame d'Youville wrote the Bishop, but his 
only suggestion was to appeal to the King. 

Meanwhile, during those trying weeks of apparently 
fruitless effort, Madame d'Youville and her companions 
saw all their movable goods, worth the expense of trans- 
portation, packed up and dispatched to Quebec. Yet they 
showed no diminution of their patient perseverance in a 
good cause, or of their humble unswerving trust in Divine 
Providence. Nor did God fail them. 

The Court, for so long silent, spoke at length, July 2, 
1751 ; a message was received by the governor-general and 
the Intendant, commanding that the sale of the Hospital 
be suspended, and stating that the government of Quebec 
had, in the ordinance of the preceding October, gone beyond 
the King's wishes. 

This favorable change was brought about by Monsieur 
Conturier, superior-general of the Sulpician Fathers in 
Paris. As Seigneur of the island of Montreal, he deemed 
it his duty to maintain the General Hospital since the Semi- 
nary had originally given the land on the condition that the 
grounds and buildings should revert to the Seminary, were 
the Hospital ever closed. The superior-general enjoyed the 
King's confidence, and his assurance that the debt owed by 
the Hospital had been discharged satisfied His Majesty. 
The King's Letters patent, dated from Versailles, June 3, 
1753, enjoined: 

That Madame d'Youville and her companions shall 
replace the Hospitaler Brothers in the charge and 
direction of the General Hospital of Montreal and in 
the enjoyment of all the rights and privileges which 
had been granted to the Brotherhood by the King's 
Letters patent, dated April 15, 1694: 

That the ladies administering the Hospital shall be 
twelve in number, amongst whom the different offices 
of the house shall, under the Bishop's authority, be dis- 


tributed; and that new subjects shall be approved by 
him before their admission; that the administrators 
shall retain the right to their own property: 

That they shall receive from the Bishop a rule of 
life; and in health and in sickness they shall be sup- 
ported at the expense of the house. 

This last clause was inserted at the request of Madame 
d'Youville who saw in separation of funds for the support 
of the ladies administering the Hospital and of the funds 
for the poor, a temptation for her companions to be too 
zealous to increase the community's means, to the detriment 
of the poor. Madame d'Youville, feeling the necessity of 
an inclosure for the Hospital, appealed with characteristic 
energy to the citizens. Every one aided, some giving skilled 
labor, others helping in carting and rougher work. Madame 
d'Youville and her companions carried stones and mortar. 
A wall 3600 feet in length was begun in May, 1754, and 
finished within four years. Madame d'Youville enlarged 
the Hospital by building a new wing, the church becoming 
the center of the structure; to the church, she added a 

While these improvements were in progress, Bishop de 
Pontbriand made his pastoral visit to the house that, by a 
solemn act of episcopal authority, he might form Madame 
d'Youville's association into a religious community. The 
Bishop ratified her position of superior, decreed that there 
should be an assistant superior, and ordained both the es- 
tablishment of a community room for the sisters and the 
appointment of a single confessor, save at the ember days. 
The rule Father Normant had given Madame d'Youville 
and her associates in 1745, in conformity with which they 
had lived ever since, the Bishop approved, placing his seal 
on the document containing it. 

Some time before, with the advice of Father Normant, 
Madame d'Youville had devised a costume to be adopted 


by the community; she now presented it to the Bishop who 
gave it his immediate sanction. It consisted of a gray 
camlet gown fastened by a cincture of black cloth, a black 
merino domino covering the head and shoulders, a simple 
cap of black gauze to shade the face, a ring and a cross of 
silver which completed the ordinary costume. 

On August 25, 1755, Father Normant, now ecclesiastical 
superior of the new community, officiated at the first cere- 
mony of clothing in Madame dTouville's congregation. 
Ten constituted the first group of "Grey Nuns," and the 
public veneration and esteem was equaled only by the grace- 
ful expression of gratitude shown by Madame d'Youville 
to all who had aided her and her companions. 

The Bishop, writing Madame d'Youville shortly after, 
addressed her as "Superior of the Ladies of Charity," re- 
marking that the public would surely approve. As if by 
acclamation, however, the people clung to the more affec- 
tionate epithet of "Sisters of Charity" or the simple, even 
more familiar, "Grey Nuns." 

The limited number of twelve was foreseen at once as 
insufficient for the future. The Bishop provided that the 
number should be increased as circumstances and the devel- 
opment of the community rendered it advisable. 

To turn from exterior circumstances where the loveliness 
and strength of Madame d'Youville are apparent, to a 
direct consideration of herself may be appropriate. It was 
not her tall majestic stature, her comely well-cast features, 
her rich, finely colored complexion, that impressed most 
deeply those who met her; but her glance, keen but kind, 
full of grave sweetness, her modest, refined demeanor, her 
cordial warmth of heart and keen intuition. Her judgment 
was extremely practical; she was ever open to sound reason- 
ing. She inclined to reflection rather than to speech. Ten- 
der, generous, she was always sympathetic with others, yet 
with that wise affection that can counsel sternly if severity 


be required. Of her too might it be said: "Affability in no 
way weakened her authority; nor did severity on her part 
lessen love for her. n Her piety was at once simple and 
staunch, for God had destined her to be a mother of the 
afflicted and abandoned. She was the strong woman of the 
Bible, opening her hands to the needy and stretching out 
her arms to the poor. Her trials strengthened her spirit 
and she brought to her work will power, zeal, and devotion 
that none but heroic souls can offer. 

She spent her days in serving the poor unflinchingly; she 
gave the greater part of many a night to labor and to 

One day, as she was busy, in very humble attire, making 
candles, the Intendant came to visit the convent. His ap- 
proach was announced to her so that she might have time 
to rearrange fier garb. She judged however that it would 
not be courteous to keep the Intendant waiting and appeared 
at once in his presence, gracefully excusing herself by saying 
that, had the notice of his visit preceded him, she would 
have taken care to be better prepared ; that she could never- 
theless receive his commands just as well in her working 
costume as if she were more carefully attired. 

The sisters who lived with Mother d'Youville found in- 
variable happiness in listening to her words. But one of 
her biographers adds : 

We should not think that the charm of Mother 
d'Youville's conversation or the tender affection she 
exhibited toward the Sisters diminished in the least her 
attention to their spiritual advancement or interfered 
with her solicitude for maintaining order and regularity 
in the Congregation. 

Her life of toil was supernaturalized wholly, and the love 
that she bestowed on all around her she drew from the 
Heart of Our Lord to Whom she consecrated each day in 


her morning meditation or, rather, in her meditation that 
continued unbroken throughout her every day, for Mother 
d'Youville beheld God in all things and all things in God 
with a lively sense of the Divine Presence. Reverend M. 
Clement says: 

The great centre of the interior life of Mother 
d'Youville was the Eternal Father. In her communi- 
cations with God, she had learned that the essential 
character of her Institute was a participation in this 
Divine Paternity, the supreme source of all charity, of 
tender solicitude, and of compassion which should ever 
animate her daughters in their labours. 

With this spirit, her inner life glowed; by it, her outer life 
was vitalized. Like all the saints, Mother d'Youville had 
a special devotion to the Passion of Our Lord and she has 
left her children the daily invocation Crux, ave, Spes unica 
as a part of their devotions of rule. She was a pioneer of 
the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Montreal. 
In 1749, a confraternity was established at the Hospital, 
carrying to the Western continent the glow of Paray-le- 
Monial. She placed an image of the Sacred Heart on the 
cross of silver with which she completed the religious habit 
of her Congregation. 

Like Saint Teresa, she appointed Our Lady first superior 
of her community, confiding to her the keys of the Hospital, 
and entrusted the temporal interests of her Institute to 
Saint Joseph, its principal purveyor, who responded to her 
filial confidence with extraordinary favors. She was wont 
to corne from prayer, inflamed with a love of God that 
must prove itself in love of fellow man. God was no ab- 
stract Being for her; He was her Father in heaven, her 
Master, close to her every moment. Her short, burning 
exhortations to her sisters renewed daily their generous 


No crisis could daunt her high courage. When, in 1745, 
smallpox broke out and war levied its awful toll on life and 
health, Mother dTouville threw open the doors of her 
Hospital to the sufferers. The expenditures consequent 
upon her generosity soared far beyond the receipts. To 
cancel the deficit, Mother dTouville invited ladies to reside 
in the house as boarders. The high esteem now felt for her 
throughout Montreal, her charm of manner, and the deli- 
cacy with which she exercised the charity that reigned su- 
preme in her character, drew many in answer to her invita- 
tion. Mother dTouville and the sisters devoted all their 
free time to needlework and their earnings were the prin- 
cipal source of revenue for the convent. No labor was 
refused, so that it became a saying, when anything difficult 
was to be done : "Take it to the Grey Nuns." They sup- 
plied clothing and tents to the troops, made clothes for the 
Indians to be exchanged for furs, made altar breads and 
wax candles for the churches, bought tobacco in the leaf 
and prepared it for the market, sold lime, building stone, 
and sand, had cattle grazing in their fields, rented all pos- ' 
sible outbuildings, employed a boat owned by the commu- 
nity as a ferry, in a word, neglected nothing that might turn 
to the profit of the poor. 

Though thrift was an art with Mother dTouville, 
avarice never swayed her. Employees were well paid and, 
to render them more contented, she was wont at certain 
times to make them handsome presents. This modest 
woman of two hundred years ago, who made the Golden 
Rule the philosophy of her life, might demonstrate to 
twentieth-century social 'economists the principles underly- 
ing peace between capital and labor, even perhaps offer 
a program. 

Anecdotes abound, revealing Mother dTouville's prac- 
tical charity. In 1757, she learned that an Englishman had 
been captured by the Indian allies of France and, fearing 


that he might be burned alive according to savage custom, 
she ransomed him for two hundred livres. He became a 
very faithful servant at the Hospital, acting as infirmarian 
of the sick Englishmen. 

A little Irish girl with her mother was rescued from the 
very post to which they were tied to be burned. The child, 
educated at the convent, later became a Grey Nun. 

Frequently parties of Englishmen, pursued by the French 
and hostile Indians, found themselves hemmed in by the 
walls of the town on one side and the river on the other. 
Their only hope was to take refuge in the Hospital where 
help ever awaited them from the sisters whose mission was 
charity to all. Often Mother d'Youville had the fugitives 
hidden in the vaults of the church until a favorable moment 
could be found for their escape. 

On one occasion, a young English soldier, closely pur- 
sued by an Indian, took refuge within the walls of the con- 
vent. He dashed up the stairs leading to the community 
room where Mother d'Youville was working on a tent. She 
saw him enter, suspected the truth, and lifted the immense 
tent in her arms, motioning him to drop beneath it. Hardly 
had she spread it over him, when the Indian, tomahawk in 
hand, rushed in. Mother d'Youville calmly pointed to an 
open door leading in the opposite direction. Thinking the 
fugitive had escaped that way, the savage darted through 
the door down the stairs, along the passage, and out. The 
young Englishman did not forget, in the months that fol- 
lowed, what he owed Mother d'Youville. Two years later, 
his general, newly arrived, mistaking the wall of the Hos- 
pital for an intrenchment, ordered it to be bombarded. The 
young officer leaped forward. "General, you do not know 
who are living in that house. It is the home of noble and 
generous women who have often saved the lives of our 
men, nursed them, dressed their wounds, and restored them 
to health. I would have been the victim of an Indian's 


rage, had not the Superior of that convent saved my life." 
The order was suspended and six officers were dispatched 
to the Hospital to find out the truth of the recital. Mother 
d'Youville received them with her wonted courtesy, showed 
them the wards of the Hospital, especially that of the Eng- 
lish prisoners, and ordered refreshments for her guests. 
The officers returned to their general, pleased with their 
reception, bearing a respectful admiration for the splendid 
woman they had met who saw, in friend and foe alike, the 
image of her Maker. 

Famine accompanied the war. The sisters curtailed their 
own supplies that the poor might not suffer. All eyes, as 
ever, were turned to the Reverend Mother. Her confidence 
never faltered; she exhibited unflagging courage and knew 
how to inspire it in the hearts about her. One day, when 
the sisters had neither bread nor money, they found, on 
entering the refectory, several barrels of fine wheaten flour. 
To quote a reliable writer : 

They did not know, nor could they even suspect, 
whence this assistance came. They looked upon it 
therefore as a miraculous intervention of Divine Provi- 
dence. Mother d'Youville said simply, "How admir- 
able is Divine Providence ! Though ever on the eve of 
extreme need, we always have at least what is 

Several eyewitnesses of the miraculous find attested, after 
the death of Mother d'Youville, the impossibility of trans- 
porting barrels of flour even into the building, much less into 
the sisters' refectory, without detection, with the number 
of people always moving about a crowded hospital. Neither 
the nuns nor the priests of the Seminary, whose kindness 
often aided the sisters, ever knew how the supplies reached 
their destination. 

During those stirring times that ended in the surrender 


of Canada to the English, the Grey Nuns lost two of their 
staunchest supporters, Bishop de Pontbriand who died in 
Montreal, exiled by the exigencies of war from his cathe- 
dral seat in Quebec, and Father Normant whose intrepid 
daring had made the community a possibility. The sis- 
ters gave to his obsequies a pomp hitherto unknown in 
Canada, and yearly observe with care his patronal feast on 
the twenty-fifth of August. 

The conquest of the country by the English seemed a ter- 
rible disaster to the Canadian people. They feared religious 
persecution and total abolition of the French language and 
laws. Many families returned at once to France. Mother 
d'Youville wrote at this time: 

It is a great affliction for us to see this unhappy 
country becoming more and more abandoned. All the 
good citizens are departing. On every side, there are 
farewells to relatives, friends, and benefactors, with 
no hope of seeing them again. Nothing can be sadder. 
Each day brings new sacrifices. 

She wrote of a friend on the eve of her leaving Canada : 

We lose her forever. It is several days since I went 
to see her or her family. I shall not call until I know 
she has embarked for I feel unable to say adieu. When 
she is gone, I will do my best to console her; father and 
mother, her brothers and sisters; but I fear her de- 
parture will be a terrible grief to the family. I must 
stop my tears blind me. 

She wrote to one of the benefactors of the Hospital : 

As I have not the courage, on the eve of your de- 
parture, to call and wish you farewell, and to thank 
you, allow me to express in writing not only my own 
gratitude but that of my community toward you. We 
can never forget your kindness and charity ; nor shall 
we omit to offer our humble prayers to God for your 


safety. I trust you will write to us, and give us the 
address of your new abode. 

To one of her nieces she wrote: 

Let us not speak of the sadness of parting but rather 
let us labour to meet in Paradise where our union will 
be endless. All our sisters send you thousands of 
good wishes. Sister Despins has just come in her large- 
hearted way to beg I may not forget to send you hers. 
The ladies also wish to be remembered kindly. 

To the Abbe de 1'Isle Dieu, she wrote : 

Pray to God for me that I may have the strength 
to bear all these crosses with resignation and to turn 
them to the best account. They are indeed many 
the loss of our King, our country, our goods, and 
worse than all, the danger to which our holy religion is 
now exposed. 

However, these fears, so largely founded on the sufferings 
of the Irish people under English rule, proved groundless 
in the case of Canada. Justice and fairness marked the 
policy of the English government. Once convinced of the 
sincerity of their new rulers, the Canadians pledged fealty 
to the English throne. "Fear God and honor the King" 
was still their maxim and, staunchly true to it, they 'refused 
to join the Americans in the Revolution of 1775. Firm 
in their allegiance, they enlisted in England's army and 
navy, vigorously repelling the invading forces of the Ameri- 
can colonists. A little later, during the horrors of the 
French Revolution, they realized that what had seemed to 
human foresight to be the omen of danger, even of perse- 
cution, proved to be deliverance and salvation. 

Mother d'Youville's charity grew in proportion to the 
increasing needs, augmented so sadly by the war. The care 
of foundlings seemed imperative at this time for they were 


found on highways, crossroads, and streets, pitilessly aban- 
doned and of course unbaptized. One very cold January 
day, when Mother dTouville was crossing a rivulet near 
the Hospital, she came upon the body of an infant, im- 
mersed in the icy water, bearing in its throat the dagger 
with which it had been pierced. Her soul was filled with 
but one thought: "What ye do to the least of Mine, ye do 
it unto Me." At once she opened a department for the 
little abandoned ones and, at her death seventeen years 
later, three hundred and twenty-eight infants had been res- 
cued. Mother dTouville not only never refused a found- 
ling but, although denied assistance by the English gov- 
ernment to which she appealed for this good work, she 
even educated them until they were old enough to earn their 
living. Her resource was as ever the Eternal Father who, 
she believed, had inspired her to undertake the work and 
who, she knew, would not allow it to perish. The work 
has grown ; up to the present day, the Grey Nuns have suc- 
cored over a hundred and thirty thousand foundlings. 

Her confidence was, from time to time, strikingly re- 
warded. One day a nurse, to whom one dollar of her wages 
was due, applied to Mother dTouville for payment. An- 
other sister was with the Superior, who realized she had 
only one dollar left but thought she was in justice bound to 
pay what was due the nurse. Putting her hand in her 
pocket to draw forth her last dollar, Mother dTouville 
found there several other dollars which she knew no human 
hand had placed there. 

Mother dTouville had need of all her confidence for 
what lay before her. On May 18, 1765, a fire broke out in 
a building more than a quarter of a mile from the convent; 
as the Hospital was about four hundred feet from the near- 
est houses of the town, Mother dTouville, feeling that God 
would spare the Hospital, the home of the poor, sent to the 
scene of danger all, both men and women, whom she judged 


able to render any assistance. The flames spread rapidly, 
a hundred houses being ablaze in a short time. The breeze, 
quickened by the intense heat, had become a gale and car- 
ried the sparks far and wide. At last some fell on the dry 
cedar shingles of the convent and the church. The sisters 
hurried back to the Hospital, but it was too late. The roof 
was one sheet of fire. No hope of saving the building re- 
mained; all they could do was to carry out valuables. Sev- 
eral people came with carts under pretense of assisting them, 
but made off with forty loads of linen, beds, and other 
furniture. Other chattels were carried out but placed too 
near the burning building and were in large measure 

To Mother d'Youville's joy, for joy she found even in 
calamity, among the objects saved were the picture of the 
Eternal Father, brought from France, and the little brass 
statue of Our Lady which had been hers since her earliest 
work among the poor. She wrote later: "We have lost our 
furniture, linen, clothing, and beds. I feel sure we have 
not saved the twelfth part of what we had. What escaped 
belongs principally to the church. God has so permitted it 
may His holy Name be praised." 

Indeed the building and its furniture were secondary to 
her throughout. All her attention was centered in rescuing 
and sheltering the infirm poor and the foundlings. Sur- 
rounded by them, with no provision for the future, she said 
only, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; 
blessed be the Name of the Lord." Then she invited all to 
say the Te Deum kneeling in thanksgiving for this new 
visitation. At the end of the hymn, Mother d'Youville rose 
from her knees and spoke these remarkable words : "Take 
courage, my children; our house will never again be de- 
stroyed by fire." To the present day this prediction has 
been fulfilled. 

Father Montgolfier with paternal solicitude secured the 


kindly cooperation of the Sisters of the Hotel Dieu. Father 
Feligonde, confessor of the community, assisted them in 
reaching that institution. Mother d'Youville, her com- 
panions, and one hundred and eighteen poor persons started 
for the refuge offered them through streets that were scenes 
of disaster and ruin. The cordial reception of the religious 
of the Hotel Dieu went far to soften the sadness of the day. 
And the Eternal Father was ever close to them, as the fol- 
lowing anecdote shows. After the fire, a barrel of wine, 
containing only one-third of its capacity, was found in the 
cellar. The wine lasted two months, that is, all the time 
Mother d'Youville and her family remained at the Hotel 
Dieu, although the sisters and the poor were served from 
it every day. Kind friends helped too the Sulpician 
Fathers, the Sisters of the Congregation, the Catholics of 
Canada, even of England, remote indeed in those days of 
difficult transportation. 

With characteristic energy Mother d'Youville set to work 
to rebuild the Hospital; it was completed in 1767, for God 
continually manifested His blessing on her labors. "Provi- 
dence," said Mother d'Youville, u ever admirable and pos- 
sessed of incomprehensible means of relieving the members 
of Jesus Christ and of providing for all their wants, has 
become the object of my greatest confidence." 

Bound by a promise to purchase new property, Mother 
d'Youville in this hour of distress signed a contract by 
which the Sisters of the General Hospital became owners of 
the Island at Chateauguay on which was built a home where 
the sisters and their poor might rest during the summer. 
At first the estate was but unbroken forest. Mother d'You- 
ville, though seventy years of age, visited it often and 
supplemented the little "Manor House" already there with 
a stone barn still in actual use. .Her decision to erect a 
larger gristmill for her tenants disclosed her powers anew. 
The first thing to be done was to clear the forest; then a 


canal two hundred feet long had to be cut; the mill itself 
was built of stone and to it the nuns added a sawmill and 
other industrial establishments. The estate under such wise 
administration increased rapidly in population, and the in- 
dustries became in time a source of considerable revenue 
to the Hospital. Mother d'Youville's keen judgment was 
proven seventy years later when it was decided to build a 
new mill. The engineer who was consulted for the purpose 
said that no better site could be found, although all the 
country was then cleared and surveyed, than the forest lot 
selected so long before by Mother d'Youville, and the new 
mill was built on the old site. 

Nor did she use her executive gifts for the mere material 
alone. All her labor had God and His love for an end. In 
the evening, after a long day spent in superintending work 
on the farm or registering land rent, Mother d'Youville 
assembled the employees and the poor of the neighborhood 
to enkindle a spark of divine love in their hearts, the lowly 
beginning of those widespread institutions of her daugh- 
ters throughout Canada and the United States, teaching di- 
vine love to all. She had an especial attraction for those who 
had few or no natural means of knowing and loving God. 
She often said : "To these unfavored ones you can never be 
too kind." She was convinced that to ameliorate physical 
misery alone is not sufficient. The moral side must be cher- 
ished to speed God's creature on the road to Heaven. 

She therefore constantly exhorted the sisters to the love 
of a hidden life, to the combat of self-love, and to a life of 
perfect union. "All the riches of the world," she wrote, 
"are not comparable to the joy of living in union with one 
another" ;' and during these heroic times, though life was 
laborious and austere, it was never sad. Joy transfused 
the charity of the sisters. In the community life, the 
younger sisters saw in the older ones mothers whom they 
honored, respected, and assisted with delicate and affection- 


ate attention. Mother cTYouville inspired and fostered this 
union by her own simplicity and confidence in her associates. 
She always held in deep respect the natural talents of her 
daughters, a characteristic of the truly great that con- 
tributed in no small way to the success of her Institute. 

Humble, tender, dauntless, invincibly trustful, with char- 
ity united to unfailing patience, she was, with the poor, with 
her sisters, with the great ones of the world, ever sym- 
pathetic, affable, charmingly courteous; in misfortune, she 
was invariably confident. "It is God's Will; we must sub- 
mit with a docile heart," was her favorite answer to news 
of loss or trial. With the art of a spiritual mistress, she 
glorified the commonplace and made of daily life a cloth 
of gold, a tapestry of majestic beauty. 

In the autumn of 1771, when she was in her seventy- 
first year, Mother d'Youville's health began to fail visibly. 
In November she was confined to her room where she con- 
tinued nevertheless to direct her community. In early 
December, the first stroke came, depriving her of speech 
and of the power to move. She rallied under the skilled 
care bestowed upon her and was able to take a few steps in 
her room, even to converse, though this with difficulty. The 
sisters stormed Heaven for her preservation, sadly stricken 
as she was, but the saintly Foundress spoke only her loved 
words, u lt is God's Will, dear sisters; we must submit." A 
few days after the first stroke came the second, and the 
third, on December 23, proved fatal. Her last words, a 
benediction and inspiration to the Grey Nuns forever, were : 
"Dear sisters, be ever faithful to the duties of the state of 
life which you have embraced; walk in the path of regu- 
larity, obedience, and mortification; but above all let the 
most perfect union reign among you." 

At the very hour of her death, Monsieur Jean Delisle de 
Lacailleterie, a well-known scientist of Montreal, was walk- 
ing near the town wall on the riverside when, looking in the 


direction of the General Hospital, he observed in the sky 
directly over the building a luminous, regularly formed 
cross. Surprised, doubting his own sight, he called to one 
of his friends to look in the same direction, and they were 
both convinced of the reality of this remarkable phenome- 
non. Monsieur Delisle exclaimed, "Ah, what else has be- 
fallen these poor Grey Nuns is this a token of joy or of 
sorrow?" Others as well saw the cross and it was spoken of 
generally throughout the town when the news of Mother 
d'Youville's death was reported the next day. 

The process for her canonization was introduced by de- 
cree of His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII, April 28, 1890, when 
the title of Venerable was bestowed upon her. 

God has His adorable ways with His saints but one and 
all follow the way He sanctified, the royal road of the 
Cross. The Cross marked Mother d'Youville from child- 
hood years, through matrimonial disappointment and dif- 
ficulty, and through the vicissitudes attendant ever upon a 
newly founded religious congregation. But with His 
shoulders did He overshadow her and under His wings did 
she trust. Like the myrrh, she yielded rich perfume when 
wounded, the fragrance of unalterable trust in the Father 
whose love broods over His children ever with ineffable 
tenderness; she has left her spiritual children in the litanies 
of Divine Providence and of the Eternal Father, daily 
recited in every Grey Nun community, an expression of 
childlike, unfaltering confidence in God which she wished to 
be the characteristic virtue of her daughters. 

An anonymous writer gives the following account of the 
part taken by the Grey Nuns during the epidemic of 1847, 
the year of the ship fever. The horrors of that period 
caused by the frightful famine and the terrible plague which 
followed and made Ireland desolate, can never be forgotten. 
The beautiful green fields of that ordinarily fertile country 
that year refused food to the population. Death in its 


most frightful form stalked through the land, and thou- 
sands died in their cabins or lay uncoffined on the roadside. 
Hundreds and thousands of others fled across the sea to 
seek, on a foreign shore, that peace, plenty, and happiness 
denied them in the land of their forefathers. They turned 
their eyes toward America, the Eldorado of their fondest 
hopes; and bright was the picture which their imagination 
drew of a life in the Western World. Alas 1 they carried 
with them the germs of the contagious disease; many died 
on shipboard and were buried in the ocean's depths, where 
the foamy billows alone sang their funeral dirge; others 
landed on the shores of Canada only to succumb to the 

On the seventeenth of June, 1 847, news reached the Grey 
Nunnery that hundreds were lying unaided and unattended 
on the shores at Pointe St. Charles. The Superior at this 
time, the venerable Sister Elizabeth Forbes, in religion, 
Sister McMullin, believing that there must be truth in the 
report, started, without delay, to visit the locality. She 
found to her astonishment and sorrow that, for once, the 
report fell short of the truth. Acting promptly, she col- 
lected all the facts and sent them in the form of a report 
to the emigrant agent, requesting power to act so as to 
relieve the fate of the unfortunate Irish immigrants. Con- 
sent was at once given, and she was authorized to act as 
she thought best, and to hire as many men and women as 
she deemed necessary to aid in the noble work; these assist- 
ants would be paid by the Department upon attestation by 
the sisters. 

AH preliminaries settled, Sister McMullin retraced her 
steps homeward with a heavy heart, for, like Abraham of 
old, she had gathered the fagots and prepared the funeral 
pile the victims alone were wanting. 

It was the hour of recreation. The sisters, old and 
young, were gathered in the community room, the conversa- 


tion was animated, and from time to time, peals of laughter 
issued from one group or another. The Superior entered 
and the sisters arose to receive her. Having taken her seat 
in the circle, she said after a short pause: "Sisters, I have 
seen a sight to-day that I shall never forget. I went to 
Pointe St. Charles and found hundreds of sick and dying 
huddled together. The stench emanating from them is too 
great for even the strongest constitution. The atmosphere 
is impregnated with it. Sisters, the plague is contagious." 
Here the Superior burst into tears and with a broken 
voice continued: "In sending you there, I am signing 
your death warrant, but you are free to accept or to refuse." 

There was a pause of a few seconds, during which each 
sister saw herself once more kneeling in imagination before 
the altar steps, again listening to the Bishop's solemn warn- 
ing before she pronounced the irrevocable vows. 

"Have you considered attentively and reflected seriously 
on the steps you are about to take? That from this time 
forth your life must be one of sacrifice, even unto death, if 
the glory of God or the good of your neighbor requires it?" 

"Yes, My Lord; and I am willing to undertake the task 
with God's grace." 

Such were the words once uttered by each of those who 
now were called upon to prove their fidelity. There was 
no hesitation, no demur. All rose and stood before their 
Superior. The same exclamation fell from the lips of each : 
"I am ready." 

Sister McMullin knew the courage of her spiritual daugh- 
ters as Madame d'Youville knew that of her companions. 
Eight of the willing number were chosen, and the following 
morning they cheerfully departed to fulfill the task allotted 
them. On arriving at Pointe St. Charles, three large sheds 
hundreds of feet long met their view. 

In the open space between the sheds lay the inanimate 
forms of men, women and children, once the personification 


of health and beauty, with loving and ardent hearts, now 
destined to fill nameless graves. More sick immigrants ar- 
rived from day to day. New sheds had to be erected. 
These temporary hospitals stood side by side, each contain- 
ing about one hundred and twenty cots, in which the poor 
fever-stricken victims lay down to rise no more. Eleven 
hundred human beings tossed and writhed in agony at the 
same time, on these hard couches. 

The number of sisters increased till none save the prin- 
cipal officers, the superannuated and those absolutely neces- 
sary to maintain the good order of the establishment, re- 
mained at the Grey Nunnery. The order of the sisterhood 
continued unabated, and until the twenty-fourth of the 
month of June no sister had been absent from the muster 
roll. On this eventful morning, two young sisters could no 
longer rise at the sound of the matin bell. The plague had 
chosen its first victims, and more followed hourly after, 
until thirty lay at the point of death. The professed nuns 
of the establishment, numbering only forty, could not suf- 
fice to superintend their institution, nurse their sick sisters, 
and assist at the sheds. There were at this time twenty 
novices who eagerly requested to be allowed to fill up the 
vacancies in the ranks. Their offer was accepted and side 
by side with the professed sisters did they toil and triumph 
for what else was death when it gave the martyr's crown? 
Fears were entertained for the safety of the convent, fears 
that increased still more when seven sisters were called to 
receive their reward. 

Overcome by fatigue and with aching hearts the remaining 
ones saw themselves obliged to withdraw for a few weeks 
from the scene, where the voice of sympathy and the hand 
of charity were so greatly needed. It was to their great 
relief that they beheld the good Sisters of Providence take 
their place at the bedside of the suffering and dying. Shortly 
after, the devoted Religious of the Hotel Dieu obtained per- 


mission of the Bishop to leave their cloister walls and assist 
in the good work. 

Meanwhile the venerable Monsignor Bourget, the priests 
of the seminary, the Jesuits and several other members of 
the clergy, who from the first days had been unrelenting in 
their efforts to afford help and comfort to the poor ex- 
iles, continued their ministrations. Many were the grate- 
ful souls who carried with them beyond the grave the re- 
membrance of their generous benefactors, not a few of 
whom soon followed to receive the crown reserved for mar- 
tyrs of charity. Survivors recalled with feelings of love 
and gratitude the draught doubly refreshing, because held 
to their parched lips by the consecrated hand of a Bishop 
or by that of a devoted priest so worthy of the name of 

In the month of September the Grey Nuns resumed their 
heroic task at the sheds. They continued their charitable 
labors not only during the year 1847-48, but also later on 
when the cholera replaced the typhus. After the cross 
came the crown. The number of postulants to the religious 
life so increased during this same year (1848) that the 
motto of the community was verified : In Hoc Signo Vinces. 

Mother dTouville devoted her life ostensibly to works 
of charity; but she sought the good of her neighbor's soul 
as well as that of his body. Natural therefore is it for the 
Grey Nuns to have entered the educational field in which 
for over fourscore years they have now borne the heat of 
the day. All the branches of the Congregation have entered 
this field, the Grey Nuns of Montreal, of Quebec, of Saint 
Hyacinthe, of Nicolet; but in an especial way have the edu- 
cational activities of the Grey Nuns of Ottawa, Pembroke, 
and of Philadelphia developed. For three generations the 
names of the Convent of Mary Immaculate, Pembroke, 
Ontario, of the Rideau Street Convent, Ottawa, of Saint 
Mary's Academy, Ogdensburg, and of Holy Angels Acad- 


emy, Buffalo, been a household word in Catholic circles 
throughout the United States and Canada. 

The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, the American 
branch of Grey Nuns, have their mother house in West 
Avenue, Oak Lane, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
While preserving with loving solicitude the works of charity 
outlined by their venerable Foundress in the hospitals and 
homes for the aged and orphans they direct, they have de- 
voted themselves whole-heartedly to the educational field in 
an especial way. "The field is white for the harvest" as- 
suredly in America. So pressing a requisition has been made 
upon them since their organization as a separate branch in 
1921, that they have opened eight new schools. They now 
have kindergarten, parochial schools, high schools, through- 
out Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New 
York; and d'Youville College in Buffalo, New York. This 
College, appropriately named for the far-visioned foun- 
dress of the congregation, breathes her spirit in its aims, for 
it essays to equip young women with special efficiency for 
the intellectual and social life of the nation. 

Though all branches of the Congregation are distinct in 
government from the parent-stem in Montreal, the hearts 
of all Grey Nuns are closely allied in devotion to those of- 
the original foundation. In the vast Grey Nunnery in 
Guy Street, Montreal, repose the remains of Mother 
d'Youville. They were conveyed there in October, 1871, 
and form a shrine of affection radiating the broad-souled 
ideals of Mother dTouville, not only through the convent 
that shelters them with its great church and spacious wards 
devoted to the care of the aged and the orphans, but also 
through the establishments of the Grey Nuns of Montreal, 
over seventy-five in number that extend from the Atlantic 
to the Arctic coast hospitals, nurseries, homes for the 
blind, the aged, the orphans, foundlings, and schools for the 
Indian children. The Grey Nuns have celebrated their 


golden anniversary of labor near the Arctic and have lo- 
cated their last foundation but fifty miles from the coast 
in bleak northern Arctic lands. The charity of the other 
world that ever characterized Mother d'Youville, combined 
with the keenest appreciation of the newest methods this 
world has to offer, rests with her daughters as is evinced 
throughout their works, the latest proof being the founda- 
tion of the "Institut Radium" in connection with McGill 
University. The care of the foundlings, once so noted a 
part of the work of the great convent in Guy Street, has 
been transferred to a large establishment outside of Mont- 
real where six hundred infants are cared for annually. 

From the Montreal Grey Nunnery on through the great 
mother houses of Quebec and Ottawa and their dependent 
missions, through the mother houses of Saint Hyacinthe, 
Nicolet, Philadelphia, and Pembroke and their missions, 
the spirit of this saintly daughter of New France passes 
to-day to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to 
feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to ransom the cap- 
tive, to visit the sick, and even to bury the dead. 

Mother d'Youville's portrait, drawn in the pages of 
Holy Writ, remains to inspire the Grey Nuns in their serv- 
ice of Christ's little ones. She indeed is the valiant woman 
who did all things so well that her daughters now ask that 
she be given the fruit of her hands, for her works are prais- 
ing her in the gates of God's eternal City. 



ONE hears a song in England, the country that once was 
"Mary's Dower," something like this: 

There's a land, a dear land, where the vigor of soul 
Is fed by the tempest that blows from the pole. 

And in all that land of vigorous hearts, none are more 
staunch than those who have kept the Faith untarnished in 
spite of the persecution of centuries. Just as the Gulf 
Stream tempers the ocean's chill and enables this northern 
island to be a garden spot for exquisite roses, so God's 
protecting love surrounds England, creating there souls of 
rare beauty, whose fragrance gladdens the Church of His 

In all this land "of flowers and showers," there is no more 
pleasant county than Middlesex, with its gently undulating 
meadows, its trim green hedgerows, its stately mansions, 
and its neat little cottages. In Middlesex, July 12, 1755, 
Frances Dickinson was born. The angels must have re- 
joiced that day, for the child was to do great things for 
God. His praises had been silenced in England's old gray 
churches; but Frances was to teach many to sing them 
in a new world. England's monasteries were ivy-covered 
ruins; but the Psalms that had echoed there would be heard 
in the cloisters of America. Fo.r little Frances was to 
become a woman of "vigor of soul." She was to aid in 
bringing Mary's own order across the sea, to give the Queen 
a sweeter and a fairer dower. Around her life was to clus- 
ter one of the loveliest chapters in the annals of the reli- 



gious history of the New World, the establishment in far- 
away Maryland of the first American Carmel. 

The parents of Frances Dickinson were fervent Catho- 
lics. They trained their daughter from earliest childhood 
in the fear and love of God. A great struggle must have 
gone on in her youthful heart between the claims of the 
world and those of Heaven, for she was of a high-spirited 
temperament, and was overflowing with humor and vivacity. 
But grace triumphed; and with all the earnestness of her 
generous, affectionate nature, she gave her heart unreserv- 
edly to Almighty God. 

Understanding that she was called to Our Lady's own 
order, Frances sought advice, and was directed to the Eng- 
lish Carmelite Monastery at Antwerp. She was only six- 
teen when she left her father's house and her native coun- 
try to enter upon a life of complete seclusion. The young 
postulant wrote some lines unskillful, the critic will say 
but full of confidence in grace and diffidence of self, show- 
ing the trust and humility of one who was little more than 
a child in years, yet a woman in courage and resolution : 

Behold, my dear Jesus, a poor Volunteer, 
With Your chosen Spouses presumes to draw near, 
To offer the heart You are pleased to demand; 
Prepare it, my Saviour, for all You command. 

The Carmel that received Frances Dickinson had been 
the house of preparation for many other valiant souls since 
the day of its foundation in 1619 by Lady Mary Lovell 
Roper, relative to England's martyred Chancellor, the 
Blessed Thomas More. This Antwerp Carmel was in- 
tended for Englishwomen who could not follow their reli- 
gious vocation in their own land which so lately had been 
torn by the religious struggles, when monasteries had been 
destroyed and the religious driven into exile. Its first 
prioress had been Mother Anne of the Ascension Worseley, 


the first Englishwoman to become a daughter of Saint 
Teresa. In the monastery's Profession-book is to be found 
many of England's noblest names. But none shed greater 
luster on this Carmel of the Lowlands than did that of 
Frances Dickinson. It is recorded therein that she received 
the habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on May i, 1772, 
and was given the name of Clare Joseph of the Sacred 
Heart of Jesus. She made her vows the following year on 
the third of June, when she was but eighteen years of age. 

Of her life in the Antwerp Carmel, few facts have been 
handed down. But few are needed. The daily life of the 
Carmelite is arranged for her, even to the smallest detail. 
And so for Sister Clare Joseph there was the habit of coarse 
brown serge, her cell a small uncarpeted room with walls 
bare, save for a crucifix and a holy picture or two, and the 
large wooden cross that has no Corpus because this cross is 
to remind the Carmelite that she herself is the victim. Sis- 
ter Clare Joseph's bed was a straw pallet laid on planks. 
In the morning, at a very early hour, she joined the sisters 
in the choir. Her day was divided between mental 
prayer, the Divine Office, and manual labor. At nine in 
the evening, often doubtless when she was wearied by a day's 
work, the Matins bell summoned her to the choir, that she 
might remain awhile with her Lord, in reparation for the 
pain which His desertion by His friends had caused Him 
in Gethsemane. 

Grace does not destroy nature, but builds upon it. Thus 
the ardent spirits that early asserted themselves in Frances 
Dickinson were not crushed in the religious life. Instead, 
they were gently trained to develop into beautiful traits of 
character that were to be a help and an inspiration to innu- 
merable souls later to come in contact with her. Saint 
Teresa herself was "deliciously human"; and the same lov-' 
able characteristic is evident in her English daughter. With 
her fun-loving disposition, Sister Clare Joseph made light 


of the heaviest trials. Her innocent merriment cheered 
others through the gravest difficulties; yet at the same time, 
she showed ardor and courage in putting into practice the 
lessons handed down by the Spanish Mothers. That she 
succeeded is evident from the fact that, from among so many 
exemplary religious, she was selected, as the embodiment 
of Carmelite perfection, to transmit the Order's spirit to 

Before the war which secured American Independence, it 
was usual for well-to-do Catholics in the Colonies to send 
their sons and daughters to European schools for higher 
education, as there were no Catholic institutions in their own 
land. So it came about that many Americans entered reli- 
gion in the Old World. In the Carmel of Hoogstraeten, 
a house which had been founded from Antwerp, was Anne 
Teresa Matthews, a member of one of Maryland's oldest 
and most influential families, and in religion known as Sis- 
ter Bernadina Teresa Xavier of Saint Joseph. The Prior- 
ess of the Antwerp house, Mother Mary Margaret of the 
Angels Brent, was also a native of Maryland. Between 
these two American Carmelites a great many letters were 
being exchanged at this time relative to the founding of a 
Carmel in their native land. But strange to say, it does not 
seem that Sister Clare Joseph was entering into the project. 
Perhaps God's voice had not reached her as yet, and, all 
unknown to herself, others were perfecting the plans which 
were to make it possible for her to plant the seed of Carmel 
in the great land of the West across the sea. 

American Independence came at last, and with it the 
opportunity of the exiled American Carmelites. Father 
Ignatius Matthews, a Jesuit laboring in the Maryland mis- 
sions and a brother to Mother Bernadina, wrote as fol- 
lows : "Now is your time to found in this country, for peace 
is declared and Religion is free." At the same time Father 
Charles Neale, also a Jesuit and a Marylander, was con- 


fessor to the Antwerp Carmelites where his cousin, Mother 
Margaret of the Angels, was Prioress. For ten years he 
had observed the life that was led about him by the Car- 
melite Sisters and had conceived a great admiration of the 
Teresian spirit. Knowing the value of a house of contem- 
plative prayer in a missionary land he aroused the interest 
of American friends, who finally sent a petition to Antwerp 
and Hoogstraeten that a convent of Carmelites be estab- 
lished in the New World. The sisters in Europe were over- 
joyed when the invitation came from their beloved Mary- 
land. Immediately, plans were begun for the mission, and 
financial aid secured from one of the Antwerp CarmeFs 
devoted friends and benefactors, Monsieur de Villegas 

It had been decided that Mother Margaret Brent should 
be the Prioress of the new foundation. But Mother Mar- 
garet died in 1784. In her place was elected Mother Ber- 
nadina Matthews. Sister Clare Joseph Dickinson then was 
chosen as her companion, this being done upon the advice 
of Father Neale, who recognized her superior ability and 
unusual talents. But nowhere is to be found in the accounts 
of the American foundation, that Sister Clare Joseph was 
concerned in the plans previous to the death of Mother 
Margaret. God, however, was directing this undertaking, 
which was to be of deep interest to His Church, and for 
eighteen years, in the solitude of the cloister, His grace had 
been fitting an instrument for the difficult task of the con- 
struction of Carmel in America. 

The Bishop of Antwerp corresponded with Dr. John 
Carroll, Prefect Apostolic of the United States; and the 
necessary arrangements were made for the new foundation. 
Mother Bernadina was appointed Prioress of the newly 
organized community, and Mother Clare Joseph was 
named Sub-Prioress. With Mother Bernadina's two nieces, 
Sister Eleanor of Saint Francis Xavier and Sister Aloysia 


of the Blessed Trinity, the two Mothers left the Hoog- 
straeten Carmel, Monday, April 19, 1790. They were ac- 
companied by Father Neale, and also by Father Robert 
Plunkett, who, setting out for America at the same time, 
had joined the little band of missionaries. 

As one considers the five ardent souls who were bringing 
Carmel's spirit to America, one is struck particularly by 
the completeness of the sacrifice required of Mother Clare 
Joseph. It is true that the three sisters from Hoogstraeten 
must have suffered at leaving their dear Carmel, where 
Mother Barnadina had been Novice Mistress and after- 
ward prioress, and where all three were greatly beloved. 
But they, like Father Neale, were Americans, returning to 
their own country. The religious life does not destroy one's 
natural affections for kindred and native land. On the 
contrary, it intensifies while purifying and uplifting them. 
These Americans must have rejoiced at the thought of 
bringing Carmel's love and prayer and sacrifice to the serv- 
ice of their own people. But Mother Clare Joseph was 
going into exile for the second time. At the age of sixteen, 
she had left England that she might immolate her life to 
God. Now He asked another sacrifice, and she left the 
sweet seclusion of the cloister, which had been her home 
for more than eighteen years, to face unknown trials in the 
New World. She was the only one of the Antwerp Car- 
melites chosen for the expedition; and she must therefore 
leave, not only her first Carmel, but all her religious 
family, a family whose devotion and tenderness, as the 
Little Flower remarks, is undreamed of in the outside 

But the Carmelite is the spouse of the jealous Lover 
Who requires the sacrifice of all save Himself. In her 
postulant days, Sister Clare Joseph had asked her Lord to 
prepare her heart for all that He required. She did not 
dream how much He was to ask of her. But she had made 


a sincere offering; and now that her test had begun, she 
was not to be found wanting in it. 

Saint Teresa, herself, in the long and difficult journeys 
she was forced to take in making her foundations, met the 
hardships and vexations incident to travel with a spirit 
which was joyous and even mirthful. The same delightful 
trait may be seen in Mother Clare Joseph, as one reads the 
extracts which have been preserved from her writings of this 
momentous journey. The party passed through Breda and 
Utrecht, arriving in Amsterdam on the twenty-first. At 
that time, prejudice was very bitter in the capital of Hol- 
land, and the nuns were openly ridiculed as they made their 
way through the streets of the city. They were obliged 
to remain in Amsterdam two days and a half, staying at one 
of the largest inns. Of this Mother Clare Joseph writes : 

The first night we had so grand and elegant a sup- 
per that good Mr. Neale could not eat for vexation. 
The two following days both our gentlemen went out 
to seek a dinner, whilst we remained in all our gran- 
deur, with the best of everything, attended by servants 
at our backs. The figure we made was highly diverting. 

The nuns arrived in Texel on Sunday, April 25, and 
there boarded the small vessel that was to carry them to 
their destination. The Brothers was the name of the ship, 
but the captain, a Scotchman named MacDougal, was any- 
thing but fraternal in his treatment of the passengers. Noth- 
ing could exceed his stinginess and want of consideration 
for his crew. From the first, the stock of provisions was 
all too scant; the bread was moldy, and the water looked so 
much like dish water that the nuns were obliged to strain 
it and let it settle for a whole day before they were able to 
use it The Captain, whose name Mother Clare Joseph 
writes as "Mackduggle," told the passengers that he was 
bound for Philadelphia and New York, although he had no 


intention of going to the former city. He had on board a 
small shipment for Santa Cruz, on the island of Tenerifie, 
one of the Canaries, and to deliver this cargo necessitated 
his going two thousand miles out of his course. At last the 
boat left Texel, and the great voyage that was to last two 
months was begun. It was the first day of the month sacred 
to Mary, the Mother who was to give the Carmelite 
missionaries proofs of her tenderness at every phase of the 
perilous trip. It was also the anniversary of Mother Clare 
Joseph's clothing-day. What holy memories flooded her 
soul as she recalled that blessed day when she became the 
Spouse of Christ I Her Divine Bridegroom had supported 
her during those eighteen years; and she knew full well 
that His unchanging Heart would still be her strength in 
the unknown land for which she was bound. 

On the second day of the voyage, all the travelers, with 
the exception of Father Neale, were victims of seasickness. 
Their sufferings were increased, moreover, by the miserable 
fare set before them. But with that true missionary spirit 
which the Carmelite vocation implies, the nuns cheerfully 
made the best of everything. They were off the Bay of 
Biscay on May 9, and then entered the broad Atlantic. In 
nine more days they were sailing down the coast of Africa, 
and sighted the Canary Islands on the twentieth. For sev- 
eral days they endeavored to enter the harbor of Santa 
Cruz, but the weather was so rough that they found it im- 
possible. More than once they were on the verge of ship- 
wreck; but they had recourse to their Lady of Mount Car- 
mel and to their other great patrons, and made promises 
in their honor. God rewarded their trust by granting them 
a favorable change of weather. 

On May 12, when they had been about eleven days at 
sea, one of the nuns congratulated the Prioress on her 
prospect of soon seeing her brother, the Reverend Ignatius 
Matthews. But Mother Bernadina sadly replied that she 


was not to have this happiness, as her brother had died the 
night before. It was true, as the Nuns were to learn on 
reaching America. Father Matthews had been called to 
his reward, May n. Mother Bernadina offered this great 
sorrow as a sacrifice to draw down exceptional graces on 
the future American Carmel. 

In those times, it was not safe to travel in the religious 
habit, so the nuns wore secular clothes. In Carmel in 
America, Bishop Currier writes: 

Mother Dickinson in her journal laughingly says 
that one June 3d, she was dressed in a fine silk petti- 
coat and chintz jacket that had been given her in alms. 
It made her look so extraordinarily fine, she adds, that 
all her companions were jealous of her. The Prioress 
and her nieces went by the names of Mrs. Matthews, 
Miss Matthews, and Miss Nellie. The four Sisters 
generally supped in their room, whenever, as Mother 
Dickinson says, they could get anything to sup on. 
Poor Mr. Neale suffered much from rheumatism, 
which he jocosely said was a punishment for the Sisters 1 

The Carmelites kept so very busy in their little room that 
when one of the passengers on the boat, a Mrs. Ramsen, 
paid them a visit, she said the cabin resembled a sewing 
school. The sisters had several other visitors four-footed 
ones, which were altogether uninvited. On one occasion, 
without giving any notice, a dog and a goat tumbled down 
into the cabin; again it was a pig, which had started on a 
tour of inspection, and landed on the sisters' table. Peals 
of merry laughter would follow the momentary shock. Thus, 
although the voyage was replete with privations, it was 
not likely to prove monotonous. 

While the vessel remained in the harbor of Santa Cruz, 
the captain went on shore and spread the report that there 


were four sisters on board who had escaped from their 
convent. Father Plunkett went to call on one of the eccle- 
siastical authorities of the place, and was asked why the 
sisters did not come on shore, to show their papers of per- 
mission from Rome. Father Plunkett banished the fears 
of the dignitary by explaining the mission of the sisters 
and inviting the ecclesiastic to visit them on board the ves- 
sel, as it was not becoming that the Carmelites should 
go on shore. Like their Mother, Saint Teresa, the 
nuns also enjoyed their narrow escape from u the Spanish 

Returning from one of his visits to the town, Father 
Plunkett brought to the Carmelites gifts from a Community 
of Poor Clares. Among these gifts was a handsome set of 
mass cruets, with the names of Jesus and Mary inscribed in 
letters of gold. As a result of their good fortune, the nuns 
set about making arrangements to have the Divine Sacri- 
fice said on board. Despite his severe sufferings, Father 
Neale entered into their plans, helped them to erect a 
temporary altar in his cabin, and remained up the whole 
night, in order to call the others for mass at three o'clock. 
The altar stone used on this occasion is still treasured in 
the Baltimore Carmel; it was a very ancient one on which 
many of the English Martyrs had offered the Holy Sacri- 
fice. Father Neale consecrated a sufficient number of Hosts 
to administer the Blessed Sacrament to the little company 
throughout the remainder of the voyage, and so the sisters 
had their Divine Companion at their side for the remainder 
of the journey. 

Had the weather continued as rough as it was at the 
beginning of their voyage, all on board would have perished 
with hunger, for about the end of May, Captain "Mack- 
duggle" reduced his men to rations. More than once 
Mother Clare Joseph had occasion to smile at the Captain's 
stinginess. Both at Santa Cruz, and when the ship encoun- 


tered other vessels, the Captain could have secured suitable 
provisions; but he would return with a bag of bread and a 
little cheese, or some tough meat and poor flour. And 
once it was a small bag of brown biscuits! But God was 
watching over them, and slowly but surely was guiding them 
to their destination. At last the vessel reached New York 
and the sisters disembarked, the first religious to come to 
stay in the young Republic of the West. Bishop Currier 
says of this event : 

After a passage of two months they arrived at New 
York on the second of July, Feast of the Visitation 
of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They had left Europe 
under her auspices on the first day of the month con- 
secrated to her honor, and arrived in America on one 
of her feast-days. The Order of Carmel had thus be- 
gun its voyage to America with its glorious Queen; 
with her it continued it, and brought it happily to a 

Father Robert Plunkett now took leave of the little 
party, and continued his journey by land. Father Neale 
and the four nuns, however, sailed from New York to 
Norfolk, and thence up the Potomac River. On Saturday, 
July 10, they arrived, late in the evening, at Brentfield, 
Charles County, Maryland. Ignatius Matthews came on 
board for a short while that same evening, to the great joy 
of Sisters Eleanor anc} Aloysia, who had not seen their 
brother for more than seven years. Early next morning, 
he conducted the party to the home of Robert Brent, who 
was the brother of Mother Margaret of the Angels, Mother 
Clare Joseph's former Prioress. Here the sisters were 
most kindly entertained by the Brents and the Matthews. 
After eight days, however, they went to the home of the 
Neales, where they remained until October. The house 
was entirely given over to their use, so they joyfully re- 


sumecl their religious garb, and begun to live a community 
life. Their first conventual Mass was said July 21, 1790. 
This date is still annually commemorated as "Foundation 
Day" by the Carmelites of Maryland. 

Bishop Carroll was in England during the summer of 
1790. Doubtless with the purpose of interesting the great 
churchman in his new spiritual daughters, his cousin, a 
nun in the Carmel of Hoogstraeten, wrote to him, August 
8, 1790: 

We heard that you, Honored Sir, had desired Mr. 
Charles Neale to return to Maryland with three or 
four religious of our holy Order, to make there a 
foundation of Carmelites ; in consequence of which our 
worthy Superior, the Reverend Lord Bishop of Ant- 
werp, chose our much esteemed superior, Mrs. 
Matthews, for the great work. Her two nieces and 
one of our Order at Antwerp accompanied her. . . . 
The grief as well as the great loss we have sustained 
in parting with so valuable and much esteemed a su- 
perior is greater than I can express. ... I must ac- 
knowledge it is a subject of joy to me to hear our holy 
faith and religion flourishes so much in my native 
country, and that religious are permitted to make es- 
tablishments there and live up to the spirit of their 
holy institutes. I am glad our holy Order is the first; 
though must own at the same time that myself and 
community have made the greatest sacrifice we pos- 
sibly could in parting with its worthy Foundress. We 
have distressed ourselves very much, but confide Al- 
mighty God will be thereby more glorified. ... I add 
no more on this subject, as I doubt not but you are 
apprised of the whole affair, it being undertaken by 
your desires and requests, etc. 

Honored Sir, 

Your obedient humble servant and cousin, 



John Carroll was consecrated Bishop of Baltimore by 
the Vicar Apostolic of London, August 15, 1790. Re- 
turning to America the same year, he soon visited the Car- 
melites, and from the first, took a paternal interest in their 

I had letters lately from Rome [he wrote to them]. 
I had given in mine an account of your settlement, and 
of the sweet odour of your good example. . . . The 
Cardinal Prefect of the Propaganda, having laid my 
letters before His Holiness, informs me that it gave 
them incredible joy, to find that you were come hither, 
to diffuse the knowledge and practice of religious 

On the Feast of Saint Teresa, October 15, 1790, the 
sisters moved to a house that had been given them by Mr. 
Baker Brook. It was not far from the Neale homestead 
and, situated on a hill, it commanded a fine view of the 
surrounding country, near the quaint old Indian village of 
Port Tobacco. Father Neale had exchanged his own prop- 
erty for the Brook estate of about eight hundred acres, and 
this he presented to the Carmelites. The hill on which 
the house was built was called Mount Carmel, and the 
Tionastery was dedicated to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, 
Mary and Joseph. 

Father Neale undertook the management of the farm, 
and would drive about in a cart, collecting vegetables and 
attending to errands for the community. His habitual cheer- 
fulness lightened many a trying hour. With his great ad- 
niration for the Carmelite Rule, he conformed to its pov- 
erty and mortification in many ways, sleeping on a straw 
Dallet, and contenting himself with the plainest food. He 
vas zealous in the spiritual direction of the sisterhood, and 
issiduous in training the novices according to the ideals of 


The first applicant to be received as a novice was Eliza- 
beth Carberry, a native of Maryland, and the first person 
in the United States to take solemn vows. In 1792, on the 
first day of May, a day sacred to the little community as 
the anniversary of the Foundresses' departure for America, 
and also as the anniversary of Mother Clare Joseph's cloth- 
ing, Miss Carberry made her profession, and was given the 
name of Teresa of Jesus. 

According to Saint Teresa, a new Carmel if it is to be 
pleasing to God must pass through great trials. Hardships 
and sufferings were not wanting to the Maryland monastery. 
The house had been left unfinished, and the cost of material 
was so high that the nuns could not complete the building. 
During the winter, they would have to brush the snow from 
their beds before rising, for the loose rafters did not pro- 
tect them from the inclemencies of the weather. But they 
set themselves to bear their trials bravely; and in their pov- 
erty labored with a will and joyously. They spent much 
time in spinning, and while at this work kept their breviaries 
or other pious books open before them. In this way, some 
of the nuns learned the psalter by heart. From the juices 
of plants they made water colors for their artistic en- 
deavors. Books were rare; and when the breviaries they 
had brought from Europe were insufficient for the com- 
munity, they printed others by hand, and bound them with 
sheepskin which they had themselves dressed. Mother 
Clare Joseph applied herself with great skill to the task of 
printing and binding prayer books. With the assistance 
and advice of the Jesuit Fathers, she compiled The Pious 
Guide, the first prayer book printed in the United States. 
Fifty of its pages are given to the compiler's titular devo- 
tion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

But to recount the exterior tasks accomplished by a daugh- 
ter of Saint Teresa is but to speak of what is incidental in 
her history. Her true life, the thing which makes her a 


Carmelite, is a daily, hourly, self-annihilation, in the course 
of a round of duties which the worldling would call monot- 
onous hours of mental prayer, spiritual reading, the 
divine office, humble household tasks performed in silence, 
acts of self-renunciation which no one sees, and which be- 
come so much a second nature that the Carmelite herself 
hardly notices them. Nothing here for the historian to seize 
upon! To write the life of a Carmelite, one would have 
to know that which is hidden from earthly eyes, the story 
of a soul's complete immolation, of sacrifices made, perhaps 
with quivering lips, but with a will that echoes the words of 
the great Carmelite Saint, the mystic John of the Cross: 
"0 my love! All for Thee! Nothing for me!" It is the 
story of a mind uplifted to God in the silence of the cloister, 
listening to no earthly voice, intent to catch the faintest 
Divine whisper. And it is the story of a heart emptied 
of all other love save that which burns within the Sacred 
Heart of Jesus. 

To write the life of a Carmelite, one should have to 
know of the gifts of conversion and repentance which her 
prayer and penance have brought to sin-stained souls; of 
the hope which, through her, has returned to weary hearts ; 
of the light which has come to groping minds. And, above 
all, one should have to know the worth of those invisible 
roses from Heaven, the graces and inspirations which have 
been bestowed upon the priesthood. 

Hence it is that the world will know but little of the life 
story of Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 
Yet a little of the mystic gleam of that most radiant flame 
of early Maryland's Carmel may be seen with the eyes of 
Faith when one remembers that in her case, also, was 
verified to a most eminent degree the age-old comparison of 
a Carmelite sister with the adoring Seraphim of Paradise. 
Tradition has it that Mother Clare Joseph, like the Sera- 


phim, stood very close to God. Before His Face she re- 
mained quiet in adoration and praise. All that she had, all 
that she was, was laid upon her altar of sacrifice and con- 
sumed for the praise of the Godhead. To be burnt for the 
love of the Father, this was her office. 

But Mother Clare Joseph's life was not an inactive one. 
And in this, too, she was of the earthly Seraphim. In the 
Old Law it is written that it was a seraph who was sent by 
God to touch the lips of the Prophet with a burning coal, 
He took living fire from the Face of God, for God is a 
consuming fire, and touched the lips of Isaiah, that he might 
proclaim God's word to men. This, the noblest kind of 
action, was the mission of Mother Clare Joseph. Pros- 
trate before Him in continued prayer, she drew forth the 
fire of His being, to touch the lips of many of the early 
priests of the American Church. This Apostolic vocation, 
wherein she entered into the saving Will of God, should 
enshrine her forever in the affections and memory of the 
Catholics of the United States. She, too, came "to save 
souls, and to pray for priests." 

To pray for captains of the Church Militant was, from 
the first, part of the life of the little community of Mary- 
land's Carmel. On the road leading from St. Thomas' 
Manor to Georgetown, this first American Carmelite 
Monastery was the treasury of prayers for many of the 
early missionaries who stopped there for spiritual assist- 
ance. And who can estimate the value of this Carmel's 
cooperation with that great American training camp for 
God's soldiers in the New World, the venerable Sulpician 
Seminary of St. Mary in the city of Baltimore? Father 
Nagot, the first Superior of St. Mary's, sensed the im- 
portance of the near presence of a Carmel to the Seminary 
and wrote the following letter, under date of January 28, 
1792, to the Carmelites: 


Having by permission of the Bishop read a letter 
written to you by the Bishop of Antwerp, the desire 
arose within me to enter into a union of prayers with 
you and your infant Community. The divine and most 
amiable Providence of Our Father Who is in Heaven 
has conducted us to this new land, that we may here 
adore His Holy Name, profess the faith of the Holy, 
Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church in the midst of so 
many sects abandoned to all kinds of errors, and honor 
our Lord, present in the mystery of His love. He has 
called you to lead a life entirely devoted to retreat and 
contemplation, the life of Our Lord, hidden from the 
world, praying, weeping and immolating Himself in 
spirit to His Father for the world, during thirty years 
of His sojourn upon earth; while our object is to com- 
bine with the life of prayer and solitude, that of men 
chosen by Our Lord to work at the extension of His 
Kingdom, by forming ministers worthy of Him and 
of His Church. Let us then render to each other, in 
the spirit of that charity which Jesus Christ came on 
earth to extend, the assistance that we mutually owe to 
each other. What can be of more interest to the 
Spouses of Jesus Christ than the spiritual good of a 
little colony of Ministers of His Church, transplanted 
to a new world to form perfect adorers of His Maj- 
esty? Often at the feet of Our Lord, Whom we have 
had the happiness of possessing in our house for nearly 
two months, I unite myself to the prayers and holy 
works of the daughters of Saint Teresa, who are our 
Sisters in Jesus Christ. ... I desire then to partici- 
pate with my Community (we are now ten, five priests 
and five young men) in all your prayers, communions, 
and good works, and I offer you in return, however 
poor it may be, all I can give in our holy sacrifices, 
prayers, supplications and good works. I also offer 
you a participation in the indulgences granted by our 
Holy Father in the enclosed brief. They believe in 
Rome that the Communities here are more numerous 


than they are in reality. Since you are the first and 
we are the second, you should certainly enjoy the first 
fruits of the indulgences granted to the Religious of 
North America. 

Christ asked of Frances Dickinson not only prayers but 
suffering. And to this great woman suffering was the food 
of love. In addition to the privations and sacrifices which 
were hers, because of the poverty of the little American 
Carmel, Mother Clare Joseph grieved to learn that the 
Carmelites of Antwerp and Hoogstraeten had been obliged 
to take refuge in England because of the baneful effects of 
the French Revolution which were at that time being felt 
in the Low Countries. But even this great sorrow was 
tempered by the hope that the prayers and sacrifices of 
Carmel in England would bring innumerable graces of 
conversion to souls in her own beloved land. Mother 
Clare prayed thusly, and dwelt in greater silence with 

Bishop Carroll wrote frequently to his Teresian daugh- 
ters ; and in one of his letters the Bishop says : 


I am exceedingly pleased at the increase of your 
Religious family. Every addition to it I look upon as 
a new safeguard for the preservation of the diocese. 
Be so good as to request your virtuous Community to 
be assiduous in their petition to Heaven, that the 
Faithful may increase in number and piety, and the 
Pastors in zeal, useful knowledge and truly Christian 
prudence. It gave me much concern to hear of Mother 
Sub-Prioress' indisposition: I trust that God in His 
mercy will grant her relief, and preserve the rest of 
the Ladies in good health. 

The "Mother Sub-Prioress" was Mother Clare Joseph, 
who suffered almost habitually from ill-health. But, with 
the courage of a Teresa, she made this suffering add to her 


merits, and followed the regular observance of Carmel's 
austere Rule, in spite of her indispositions. 

She was most lovingly attentive to the care of Mother 
Bernadina, who, after having suffered silently for some 
time with a cancerous infection, was obliged to reveal her 
illness. Her life work was finished; and June 12, 1800, the 
first American Prioress peacefully gave back her soul to 
God. In the cloister of Hoogstraeten, she had prayed and 
hoped and planned for Carmel in Maryland. Now that 
it had been begun, its work of construction was no longer 
to depend upon Mother Bernadina, but upon the Co- 
foundress who had so energetically labored at her side. 
Bishop Carroll appointed Mother Clare Joseph Prioress, 
and told her to appoint the Sub-Prioress and the Discreets, 
the officers who are the advisers of the prioress. In thus 
giving her almost absolute control of her little world, the 
Bishop showed his confidence in her ability and judgment. 
That he was not mistaken was evident at the time of the 
Canonical Elections, for the nuns chose Mother Clare 
Joseph to govern them, and afterwards kept her in office 
for thirty years. Something of their loving attention to 
her, as well as the affection which she inspired in her former 
Antwerp sisters, the Carmelites of Lanherne, England, is 
contained in the following extract from a letter of Sister 
Teresa Coudrey, written to one of Mother Clare Joseph's 
community : 

I was just going to thank you for your very agreeable 
and affectionate letter when Reverend Mother claimed 
it as belonging to her being written in her letter ; and 
besides her Reverence and all the Community are quite 
charmed both with the easy and pretty manner you 
describe your dear Rev. Mother's Jubilee, and at the 
ingenuity and cleverness with which you decorated and 
kept it. Indeed I am quite delighted that my dear 
American Sisters have thus excelled in their attempt to 


honor their dear and amiable Prioress to whom under 
God they owe so much for their present happiness. 
Yes, my dear, I am sure, you are sensible how many 
cares and troubles it has cost her Reverence to procure 
your establishment, although she was not your first 
actual Superior; and I am sure you can never too much 
show your gratitude, respect and love to her, for the 
same; though I know all the reward she wishes and 
asks is that her dear children prove true and fervent 
daughters of our holy Mother Saint Teresa, and exact 
observers of the Holy Rules and Constitutions you 
have had the happiness to profess to; and this is a 
consolation which I don't doubt you each one strive to 
give your dear Superior. . . . 

Pay also the particular compliments of Rev. Mother 
and all the Nuns to Mother Subprioress and the other 
dear Nuns who invented and so beautifully decorated 
the Recreation room, Choir, Refectory, and Rev. 
Mother's cell. To be sure your good Angels inspired 
and helped you, for no doubt it was a sight pleasing 
to them to see the love and union with which you were 
all exerting yourselves to celebrate the Jubilee of your 
beloved Mother's sacred Vows to her Heavenly 
Spouse, and sung their canticles with you, for I think 
it was impossible you should each have performed so 
well and properly, never having seen anything of the 
kind ; at the same time it shows what a natural ingenu- 
ity and taste you all have. 

Sept. n, 1805, Sister Teresa Coudrey writes to Mother 
Clare Joseph: 

We received your truly welcome . . . letters and 
those of your dear children with a joy nothing inferior, 
I assure you, to that you are pleased so kindly to ex- 
press at the arrival of the box (whose contents Rev. 
Mother and myself and each one wished had been 
a thousand times more valuable and worthy of your 


acceptance). We had been anxious lest some new acci- 
dent had prevented your receiving it at last; and 
therefore universal joy took place at the sight of your 
dear hand, and we could neither think nor speak of 
anything else at recreation, but affectionate effusions 
of the heart for you and yours; only our hearts were 
much grieved to find your health in such a precarious 
state, my beloved and dear Mother, and especially for 
the last attack your Reverence had just before the de- 
parture of the letters, which leaves us still in uncer- 
tainty if you are recovered, and is a very sensible pain 
to Rev. Mother and all, first for the true affection we 
have to your dear person, and second for the dreadful 
and I fear almost irreparable loss your Reverence 
would be to the new and flourishing plantation in the 
Vineyard of Mount Carmel. May Almgihty God be 
pleased long, very long, to preserve your dear life to 
gather the fruit of your labor in seeing your dear chil- 
dren flourish in all virtue. For my part, I feel more 
joy than I can express in seeing how our dear Blessed 
Lord has been pleased to bless your zeal and that of 
our dear Father Neale, and draw so many souls to His 
holy service in this our Holy Order. . . . 

To Mother Clare Joseph must be given the honor of hav- 
ing been the chief instrument in introducing into America 
the particular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The 
little Chapel of the first Carmel was dedicated to the Sacred 
Heart, and during her Superiorship Mother Clare Joseph 
had the consolation of seeing erected in it the Confraternity 
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It seems fitting, indeed, that 
this first Carmel in America should propagate this devotion, 
for it seems particularly in accord with the Order's life of 
solitude and silence. Writing in the Messenger of the 
Sacred Heart, of September, 1927, the Reverend John 
Corbett, S.J., has the following to say concerning this 


In 1792 application was made to the Holy Father 
to grant a plenary Indulgence for the Friday after the 
Octave of Corpus Christi (the day designated by our 
Lord for the Feast of the Sacred Heart) and for the 
first Friday of every month to all the faithful who 
truly contrite after Confession and Communion, would 
visit on these days the chapel of the Carmelite Nuns 
and there pray devoutly for some time for the inten- 
tions of the Holy Father. 

It has been the privilege of the present writer to 
examine the Papal document by which the grant was 
made. It is carefully preserved in the Carmelite 
Monastery in Baltimore. The audience in which the 
grant was made was held on July 28, 1792. The docu- 
ment bears an endorsement in the handwriting of 
Bishop Carroll as follows: 

Baltimore, Jan. i, 1794. 

I hereby allow the publication of the indulgences 
contained in this grant of His Holiness for the chapel 
of the Teresian Nuns in Charles County, Maryland. 

flB J. Bishop of Baltimore. 

The reason given by the nuns in their petition to 
Pope Pius VI was their desire to establish in these 
lands the devotion to the most Sacred Hearts of Jesus 
and Mary. A Partial Indulgence of two hundred days, 
that could be gained twice each day by those who would 
pray before the picture of the Sacred Hearts in the 
same chapel, was included in the grant. To the Car- 
melite Nuns, then, belongs the honor of having ob- 
tained the first Indulgences to Americans in favor of 
the devotion to the Sacred Heart. 

Mother Clare Joseph tells of the increase of her little 
community in the following, written to Bishop Carroll, 
January 21, 1801 : 

On the twenty-ninth of November last I had the 
honor of addressing your Reverence a few lines . . . 


wherein I informed your Reverence of the Solemn Pro- 
fession of our third Lay Sister, Martha of the Holy 
Cross, alias Winefred Hagan, which took place in the 
above said month, as also of many solicitations from 
several who wish to join us in our happy solitude, 
amongst others Miss M. Bradford, who is to be ad- 
mitted on the third of February, there being at present 
a vacant cell, and the Choir sufficiently enlarged by 
taking in the old Chapel, and building a new one, 
which though small is much admired for the neatness 
of its form and fashion. I cannot but flatter myself 
with the pleasing hopes that your Reverence, during 
the course of the ensuing summer, will find some leisure 
days to spend with your Teresian daughters on Mt. 
Carmel, and bestow on them the much desired favor of 
blessing their little Church or Chapel. Your heavy 
burthen being, as I hope, somewhat lightened by the 
assistance of your worthy Co-adjutor, the Rev. L. 
Neale, will facilitate the execution of the promise your 
Reverence was so obliging as to make us some years 

A glimpse of life in the Maryland Carmel is given by 
Mother Clare Joseph in a letter to England: 

We are twenty in Community. . . . Without rent 
or revenues we depend on Providence, and the works 
of our hands, productive of plentiful crops of wheat, 
corn, and tobacco, a good mill supplying our large and 
healthy Community with every necessary of life. . . . 
We raise a large stock of sheep, yielding a considerable 
quantity of wool, black and white, which we spin and 
weave, to clothe ourselves and Negroes. The situa- 
tion of our monastery is pleasant, rural, and healthy, 
being on the top of a high hill. We have excellent 
water and a very extensive enclosure, containing nearly 
three acres of land. The place is solitary, suitable to 
our eremitical Order. 


Mother Clare Joseph's reference to "Negroes" sounds 
strange to-day. But Bishop Currier says that many of the 
novices came from wealthy Southern families, and brought 
slaves with them, as part of their dowry, so that at one 
time the community owned about thirty negroes, who were 
lodged in quarters outside the enclosure, and did the work 
of the farm. The sisters treated the negroes with the 
greatest compassion and tender charity, instructing them in 
their religious duties and attending to their temporal needs. 
And, in their turn, the slaves loved the Carmelites 

Bishop Currier gives a description of Maryland's old 
Mount Carmel. He says that there were, besides the 
chapel, seven separate buildings, including the infirmary, 
priest's house, and kitchen. 

The buildings were of logs, or weatherboards, some 
inlaid with bricks, others with mud. They were all 
one-story buildings, but some of them were surmounted 
by an attic, with dormer windows. ... In the rear 
of all the buildings stood the ice house, while a well, 
at a little distance from the same, supplied the Com- 
munity with water. Towards the end of their sojourn 
at Mount Carmel, the Nuns erected a new frame dwell- 
ing having an upper story. . . . 

All the rooms in the monastery, except the one used 
as an infirmary, were unplastered. No fire was kept, 
except in the kitchen. In cold weather each Nun filled 
daily a small iron pot with burning coals, which she 
carried to her cell. A large pan of burning coals 
served to warm the choir. Each cell had a small win- 
dow sash containing four small panes of glass. It 
opened on hinges, and was kept closed by means of a 
wooden button. 

"A vocation to Carmel is a vocation to Calvary," God 
did not permit the community to live in uninterrupted tran- 


quillity. He sent them trials and various sufferings result- 
ing from unjust deals and disputed wills. There was a long 
and expensive lawsuit over the boundary of their property. 
The Carmelites won the cause, chiefly through the kind 
and disinterested offices of Roger Brooke Taney, afterwards 
Chief Justice of the United States. Mother Clare Joseph 
and the sisters regarded the crosses that these legal diffi- 
culties brought them as so many means of becoming like 
their Crucified Spouse; for they understood the apostolic 
worth of suffering, and knew that it was by this daily im- 
molation that they were to win blessings for those who are 
actively engaged in battle for the interests of Christ. 

When the Jesuits were reestablished as a religious society 
in 1805, word reached the Maryland Carmel that their 
director, Father Neale, was about to be appointed to the 
newly established Novitiate of the Society of Jesus. At 
once the sisters stormed Heaven to divert this added cross 
from their shoulders, for they so needed their spiritual 
guide and father in God. Their prayers prevailed, for he 
continued as their director, even though in 1808 he became 
Superior of the American Jesuits. His solicitude for the 
Carmelites but increased as his other responsibilities 

Father Neale's brother, the Reverend Leonard Neale, 
who had been appointed Coadjutor to Bishop Carroll, and 
who later became second Archbishop of Baltimore, had es- 
tablished at Georgetown a Community of Visitandine Nuns 
whose first Superior was Miss Alice Lalor, in religion, 
Mother Teresa of the Heart of Mary. The sisterly rela- 
tions between the Carmelites and the Visitandines may be 
seen from a letter written by Bishop Neale to Mother Clare 
Joseph, June 15, 1814: 

Mother Teresa of the Heart of Mary and the Sis- 
ters under her charge return their most grateful thanks 
to you and your worthy Community for the special 


attention you have been pleased to testify towards 
them. They rejoice much that the sentiments and dis- 
positions of their hearts towards you are so justly reci- 
procal and mutual between you. They return you 
many thanks for the treat you were so gracious as to 
send them. They will not fail to enjoy themselves on 
the occasion and commemorate your kindness. They 
are happy to be assured of your supplications to 
Heaven in their favor, and will not fail to offer up daily 
prayers to the Father of Mercies to draw down every 
blessing on you and your pious Community. . . . 

A union of prayer was formed between the community 
at Mount Carmel and Mother Seton's spiritual daughters 
at Emmitsburg. Concerning CarmePs relations with 
Mother Seton, the following is recounted by an annalist of 
the Baltimore Carmel: 

Among the many Novices who were received during 
these years, we must mention three who lived to cele- 
brate their golden Jubilee together. They were Sister 
Teresa of Jesus (Sewall), Sister Ambrosia of the 
Heart of Mary (Jamison), and Sister Stanislaus of the 
Infant Jesus (Smith) . Sister Teresa was the daughter 
of Clement and Eleanor Sewall, and the niece of Sis- 
ter Teresa Carberry. She was born in Georgetown at 
the close of the eighteenth century, and was a great 
favorite of George Washington, who often held her 
in his arms when she was an infant. Her father had 
been an officer in General Washington's staff during 
the Revolution. She entered Carmel in 1817, and 
made her vows on Oct. 25, 1818, aged nineteen years. 
Sister Ambrosia (Catherine Jamison), ' and Sister 
Stanislaus (Mary Smith), were first cousins, but had 
been brought up as if they were sisters. Their Bap- 
tism, First Confession and Communion, entrance into 
Religion and Profession were made together; and 
both had been educated at St. Joseph's Academy, Em- 


mitsburg, under the vigilant care of the Foundress of 
the Sisters of Charity in the United States. Mother 
Elizabeth Seton took the warmest interest in the future 
little Carmelites, and taught them many pious and 
helpful practices, some of which they continued all 
their life. They had the greatest affection for the 
holy Foundress, and her maternal love followed them 
into the cloister, for shortly before her death she sent 
them this little message: 

"Now, dearest children, who called me mother so 
often, and so tenderly in our dear Lord, show your 
truly compassionate love and help my poor soul, so 
soon to meet its last judgment; pray for it now and 
when it is gone. . . . Yours, E.A.S. in Christ." 

Sisters Ambrosia and Stanislaus never failed to 
remember her soul in prayer; but they also earnestly 
invoked Mother Seton's patronage, for they esteemed 
her as a saint. 

Concerning Sister Ambrosia, Bishop Currier recounts, 
with great satisfaction, a little anecdote which tells much 
about Mother Clare Joseph's daughters. The winter had 
been unusually severe, and the pans of burning coals could 
not greatly alter the atmosphere of the Carmelite cells. 
Sister Ambrosia, who had noticed that the feast days of 
many Carmelite saints occur in the month of February, 
remarked one day: "Another saint of our order! I think 
they must have all died of cold!' 1 Her droll remark was 
greeted with laughter, which, the Bishop tells us, cheered 
the sisters in spite of the weather. 

This little incident serves to illustrate the spirit which 
Carmel's Foundresses brought to America, the spirit of 
the daughters of St. Teresa. For theirs is the courage 
that rejoices in th'e midst of suffering, the love that is 
"ashamed to find anything hard." St. Teresa could be 
"very merry" when her heart was full of anxiety and her 
body tortured with pain. Her gaiety is the inheritance of 


her spiritual daughters. The smile in the radiant eyes of 
the Little Flower is telling the world that sanctity is not 
the deadening thing that the worldling thinks; it is the thing 
that brings Heaven's sunshine down to earth. And how 
well did not Mother Clare Joseph know how to bring the 
sunshine of heaven into the old Carmel of Port Tobacco! 
Life was drawing to a close for Mother Clare Joseph, 
and in a letter to her dear sisters at Lanherne, England, 
she wrote, November 21, 1819: 

My friends are gone, and very soon do I hope to 
join them. . . . My health is but indifferent, although 
I am thoroughly recovered from the palsy with which 
I was struck on the loth of March last, losing all at 
once the use of my whole right side. Since then I 
have had dangerous inflammatory colds, etc., all which 
have brought me pretty low; but thanks to God, the 
tender care of Dr. F. Neale and my truly affectionate 
children, I can in part follow the Community in some 
small duties. Pray for me, dear Mother Subprioress, 
that every pain, sickness and cross may be welcome to 
me from the loving hand of my Spouse. 

On the side of this letter she has several invocations, con- 
cluding with the words: "Ye holy three Kings, guide this 
letter safe to Lanherne House!" 

But before the sainted foundress of America's Carmel 
should pass the portals of the Presence Gate, it was des- 
tined that her soul should be further purified in an added 
earthly sorrow, the greatest sorrow that could have come 
to the aged Prioress. This 'was the death of the director 
of the Port Tobacco Carmel, Father Neale. Called to the 
Superiorship of the Jesuits for a second time his arduous 
labors and a number of severe illnesses brought on the fatal 
malady that resulted in his death April 27, 1823. His 
remains were interred in the community cemetery to rest 
with his Carmelite daughters to whom he had been the 


American John of the Cross in more than one way. Father 
Neale's death was indeed a cross for Mother Clare Joseph; 
she could not conceal from her sisters the poignant sorrow 
that was caused by his passing. At this time she wrote of 
him: "I have had the pleasure and advantage of knowing 
him for almost forty years, and in all this time he has never 

Like many another virile soul who has borne suffering 
joyously, Mother Clare Joseph had a very particular devo- 
tion to the Sacred Passion. When, in the later years of 
her life, she was bound to her bed of pain, she kept her 
crucifix near her, and looked at it often and lovingly. A 
saint has said that they find death sweet who have lived a 
dying life, for death is a separation from all that is of earth. 
Daily, hourly, the Carmelite is called upon to relinquish all 
that is not of God, until at last she has learned to look only 
on the crucifix, and to despoil herself of all, according to 
His example. Then when the final agony comes, she longs 
to meet, as her Bridegroom, Him whom so many souls 
dread to meet as their Judge. 

Mother Clare Joseph had written : 

Oh, let me waste and wear away 
With love of Thee, my God, I pray, 
Until I reach Thy mighty throne, 
And sing Thy praise in Seraph's tone ! 
This is the height of my desire, 
In purest flames of love expire. 
Haste then, slow Time; soon let me see 
The Face of God eternally! 

At last her desire was granted, and with the prayer: 
"Sweet Jesus assist me!" she went to meet her Spouse, 
March 27, 1830, in her seventy-fifth year. 

Mother Clare Joseph's "vigor of soul" remained with 
her even to the end. With her order's prophet-founder, 
the holy Elias, she too could cry out in all the fervor of 


her soul, "With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God 
of Hosts." It was her zeal, especially, that made of 
America's first Carmel a house of prayer and solid piety, a 
house that came to be venerated by both the priests and the 
people of the early American Church. 

Mother Clare Joseph's charity had caused her daughters 
to venerate her as a saint and to love her as the tenderest 
of mothers. They were overwhelmed with grief at her de- 
parture. But the loss was not felt solely by the community. 
Numerous letters of sympathy told how universal was the 
mourning. The following came from Bishop Flaget, of 
Bardstown, Ky. : 

August 24, 1830. 
Dear Sister Stanislaus: 

With what concern did I not hear of the sickness, 
and nearly at the same time, of the death, of your 
so venerable and so worthy superior and mother. All 
the marks of esteem and religious affection she had 
given me, both with words of mouth and by writing, 
presented themselves to my mind in a crowd. My poor 
heart was truly overwhelmed, sometimes by deep sor- 
row, at another time with lively sentiments of regard 
and gratitude. The desolation of your fervent family 
must have been great; for if the people that only had 
a slight acquaintance with this Respectable Lady felt 
her death in so keen a manner, what did not those feel 
who knew her for many years, and who had been the 
witnesses of her eminent virtues. Religion alone in 
such painful circumstances can soothe our affliction. 
For we know that this Rev. Mother had run a long 
and very glorious race. She was ripe for Heaven. 
God has called her to Him, has freed her of all the 
bodily miseries that tormented her, and pours now tor- 
rents of delight into her heart, and shall pour them 
during the whole Eternity. These consoling reflections 
are not the result of mere imagination; they are the 


natural consequences of our belief, and the most effica- 
cious remedy to all our afflictions. Though I am per- 
suaded that Mother Dickinson was not much in need 
of prayers after the wonderful examples of patience 
and charity she had given for so many years to her 
family, yet, as God may perceive spots in angels them- 
selves, I have offered several times the Divine Sacri- 
fice of Mass for the rest of the soul of so respectable 
a friend, and I will continue to remember her, and all 
her edifying family, in my memento. ... As for you, 
accept besides my compliments of condolence, all the 
sentiments of gratitude for your kindness in giving me 
such interesting details, with which I remain, 
Your most Obedient and affectionate Father in God, 

8S Benedict Joseph, Bishop of Bardstown. 

The year following the death of Mother Clare Joseph 
the Carmelites of Port Tobacco bade farewell to their first 
convent home, the scene of those early labors, their Bethle- 
hem in America, and moved to Baltimore. Their first 
Baltimore Convent was on Asquith Street, but in 1873, ^ e 
year that saw the birth of the Little Flower of Jesus, in 
far-off Lisieux, they entered the present Baltimore Carmel 
on Biddle and Caroline Streets. 

At the community's removal to Baltimore, many of the 
graves of those who had died in Port Tobacco were opened. 
The bones were placed in one coffin, so that to-day all the 
builders of the Maryland Carmel are resting together in 
Baltimore's cemetery of Bonnie Brae. It is fitting, indeed, 
that the ashes of Mother Bernadina and Mother Clare 
Joseph should be mingled. Mother Bernadina dreamed 
and prayed and hoped for America's Carmel, and finally 
Mother Clare Joseph's task to build upon the new founda- 
tion a contemplative temple worthy of the Lord. It was 
hers to direct the spiritual life of the community, to teach 
prayer and mortification, to point out to young aspirants 


the Order's principles and ideals. The novices whom she 
trained were to influence a vast number of souls, for most 
of the Teresian houses in the United States were to be 
founded from her community or from its branches. 
America's Carmel honors Mother Bernadina as its first 
Prioress. But Mother Clare Joseph is the central figure 
in its early history. 

A number of the early prelates of the American Church 
looked upon Mother Clare Joseph Dickinson as one of the 
great figures in the annals of religion in the New World. 
The saintly Brute, first Bishop of Vincennes, and a constant 
friend to Mother Clare, one time wrote: "The first of all 
communities granted by God to our America, your prayers 
have called the others and blessed the whole land." 

And later, when in the wilds of Indiana he was laboring 
like an Apostle for the establishment of Christian commu- 
nities, he wrote again to Carmel : 

Ah I surely it would be in vain to speak even of my 
more distant hopes for these wilds, to see the honor of 
the holy vows adorn them. Most distant are they; 
but were I in Heaven at last, I think I would tell 
Mother Dickinson to ask with Saint Teresa, that Our 
Lord may grant His Church of Vincennes some part 
of the blessing that the old churches of Europe have 
so long enjoyed. 

It was not given to the holy old man of Vincennes to see 
established in his poor diocese the spiritual daughters of 
Mother Clare Joseph Dickinson. But more than likely his 
desire persisted in the courts of heaven, for to-day there is 
a Carmel not far from where his blessed remains are await- 
ing the coming of the Savior. And this Carmel was founded 
from a branch of the Maryland community. 

As one considers the religious of active orders, one 
beholds Christ passing through the streets of city or village, 
healing the stricken, pardoning the sinful, embracing the 


little ones. But to understand Carmel, one must see Christ 
in the carpenter's cottage of Nazareth, doing commonplace 
tasks, but with His Heart ever uplifted to His Father; 
one must contemplate Him alone on the mountain top, 
where, amidst the midnight silence, the music of His Heart's 
adoration ascended to the throne of the eternal Godhead. 

The secular priesthood, the active orders of religion, 
the splendidly organized and efficient workers in Catholic 
schools, colleges, hospitals, and charitable institutions, all 
those who form the flower of the Church Militant, agree 
in declaring that their greatest strength is prayer. It is 
through graces won by the prayer of sinless souls that young 
hearts hear the call of God, and gain courage to follow 
where God leads them. It is through prayer that new 
hope and fresh inspiration are given to those wearied in 
life's battle. Many a heroic priest laboring in a foreign 
land, many a missionary sister in the arctics or the tropics, 
finds consolation in the thought that the entire Church of 
God shares in the daily supplications and the daily sacri- 
fices of God's prisoners of love in some far-away cloister. 
More than one thinker has said that prayer is to the Church 
what power is to machinery; and the power house of the 
Church is the home of the Contemplative. 

Considering the great lack of religious institutions in 
America in the early days of its existence, some, with short- 
sighted human reason, might have thought that the first 
need was for active orders, to form the staffs of schools 
and hospitals. Such were needed, it is true ; and they were 
to come in time. But "God's ways are not our ways." 
God begins at the beginning. In the Divine plan, Our 
Lord's public labors were preceded by the Hidden Life at 
Nazareth. So in the Church in the United States, the 
stupendous achievements of the active orders were pre- 
ceded by the prayer and penance of Carmel. The story 
of the establishment of the first American power house of 


prayer will always center around the life of Frances Dick- 
inson, Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 
Every high-souled girl who has followed the rare and 
sublime vocation to Carmel, and who has found her life 
work in one of the communities founded from Baltimore; 
every priest who has gained inspiration from the help given 
by the prayers of these Carmels; every soul that has been 
granted, through them, a temporal favor or a grace of con- 
version, owes something to this great Foundress who braved 
danger and hardship to bring the order of Carmel to 
America. Not only was Mother Clare Joseph builder of a 
Maryland cloister but she was one of the builders of the 
nation. For much of the light and hope and love that be- 
longs to the Church in America to-day had its beginning 
when a little sailing vessel from the Old World touched 
the shores of the New on July 2, 1790, the feast of Mary's 
Visitation. Since then America, too, has had her mystic 
virgins, lovely and generous in their service to the Bride- 
groom, who spend their days, like Mary of Bethany, gazing 
upon the beauty of His countenance. 



IN the Maryland hills there was the breath of roses. The 
fields once white with tiny daisies were now abloom with 
lilacs, myrtle, pinks and white japonicas. Snowdrops in the 
grasses had been followed by wild strawberries, and iris 
bloomed along the hedges. The streams were bright with 
fish, and the lakes cupped deep with pampas grass and 
water lilies. The roads were fringed with bridal wreath 
and sweet alyssum. Cardinals and robins splashed red the 
woods of every spur and hill and intervening valley, while 
aisles of spruce were starred with white liana. By day the 
haze lay spread once more upon the Blue Ridge, a veil of 
silver, gray and deepening purple; then came an earth 
bathed white and gold in radiant Maryland moonlight. It 
was June along the Potomac, the Chesapeake and the 
Patapsco; the month of roses, stars, and Corpus Christi; 
the never-to-be forgotten June of eighteen hundred and 
eight which brought to Maryland, and to little children, the 
sweet-souled Mother Seton. 

To Maryland, the "Land of Sanctuary," the home of a 
Calvert, a Carroll and a Gibbons, belongs the distinction of 
giving to the American nation one of its greatest women. 
Maryland had long been dedicated to the nobler ways of 
religious action when it was afforded another opportunity 
of strengthening its prerogative as America's first state, 
and for a number of years its only one, where religious 
intolerance had not been written into its constitution, or 
where the fanaticism of the Protestant sects had not been 
strong enough to bring suffering and persecution on Catho- 




lie citizens. With the coming of the first English settlers 
on the Ark and the Dove in 1634, under the leadership of a 
Catholic, Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, free- 
dom of religious worship had been guaranteed all peoples. 
"Thus," says Bancroft, "religious liberty obtained a home 
its only home in the wide world." With but few excep- 
tions, and these exceptions the result of Protestant ascend- 
ancy and control of power, the years that followed w r ere 
ones of religious progress and tranquillity. This was the 
condition of affairs in 1808 when the prejudice of Protes- 
tant New York- made Elizabeth Seton an outcast from the 
scenes of her childhood. But in driving this gentle little 
woman into strange surroundings and unknown associations, 
little did it know that it was thus giving to a sister state in 
the southland a more secure and cherished place in the 
hearts of many American citizens. And on the other hand, 
little did Maryland realize that in receiving Mother Seton 
as an exile what a luster some day she would add to its 
already glorious palladium. Mother Seton came to Mary- 
land, friendless and penniless, a stranger into this land of 
her adoption, to receive from it not only a home, but in 
God's good time the means whereby she would do a great 
work for His Church in America, and she herself mount 
higher on the ladder of perfection. For here, in the 
solitude of one of its mountain valleys, just where the Blue 
Ridge begin their march westward, she was to find asylum, 
to dedicate her life to the service of little children and to 
start her work for the poor and miserable the hopeless 
poor, the saddened, the neglected as America's first Sis- 
ter of Charity. Hence it is that Maryland, Mother Seton' s 
land of sanctuary, should always be remembered as the 
refuge of this holy exile, and the cradleland of Catholic 
charity in the New Republic. 

Among the first of our American womanhood to conse- 
crate herself to the active works of religion, Mother Seton 


stands preeminent in the history of charity and education 
in this country. God seems to have destined her not only 
to be the foundress of a great religious community but also 
to inaugurate practically every work of social welfare in 
America, If this seems to be an exaggeration one need 
only to consider in detail the things she accomplished: be- 
cause she opened the first free school for the children of 
the people she rightly merits the title of patroness of the 
parochial school system in the United States; because she 
sent sisters to take charge of the first Catholic orphanage 
in the country her place among the homeless little ones of 
Christ is in sweet security; and because her Daughters 
crossed half a continent in creaking vans and leaking river 
steamers to open America's first Catholic hospital her 
memory should be venerated wherever sickness and suffering 
receive ministrations. Colleges, academies, schools, or- 
phanages, hospitals, homes for the aged and the incurable 
these by the hundreds have come into being through her 
blessed inspiration. Yet where her Daughters erect the 
most imperishable monuments to the memory of this woman 
is in their own lives, often spent in out-of-the-way places 
where only God is witness to their zeal and devotion. They 
themselves are the reason for the firm hold they have on the 
affection of the American people. And it is because ,of them 
and the work they are doing that Mother Seton has come 
to be looked upon as one of the chief glories of the Church 
in the United States. Behold her, then, a typical American 
pioneer of native stock and education, refined, gentle, un- 
afraid of difficult undertakings, the mother of children and 
the protector of motherless little ones, a woman of great 
vision and resourcefulness, one who knew how to suffer and 
to teach others how to bear trouble, one whose soul was 
profoundly religious. No wonder then that steps have al- 
ready been taken, and prayers are being offered, that the 
day will not be far distant when she will be raised to the 


honors of the Altar, the first canonized saint of the Church 
in America. 

Mother Seton now rests in that same valley of loveliness 
where she spent most of her Catholic life. Her remains 
are in a tomb of white marble, lying at the side of those of 
her nephew, the Most Reverend James Roosevelt Bayley, 
like her a convert, and one time occupant of the ancient see 
of Baltimore. Here within sight of the purple ridges, she 
sleeps, at last in peace. Many have likened her final resting 
place to the valley of Assisi, that nestles in Umbrian 
solitude at the foot of the Carceri ; about them both is an 
atmosphere of such holiness as to captivate even those not 
of the household of the faith. And just as Assisi for cen- 
turies has drawn to itself the devout of every age and con- 
dition of life, so has Emmitsburg begun to attract to its 
little churchyard the old and the young, the well and the 
sick, the clergy, the laity, and those outside of the Fold. 
As these pilgrims go about from shrine to shrine, they 
know that this is holy ground, every inch of which has been 
sanctified by toil and suffering, consecrated by deeds heroic. 
On one side they behold the long, low "Yellow House," 
almost hidden in its garden of hollyhocks and wild liana, 
the same humble abode to which the sisters came in 1809, 
on the Feast of St. Ignatius, and where Mother Seton found 
eternity just beyond its threshold. And then on the other 
side they see a doubly sacred place of pilgrimage, Mother 
Seton' s last home on earth, in which she lived for more than 
a decade of years and where God found her when He came 
to give her everlasting happiness the "White House" as it 
is called to-day, hung low with ivy, roses and clematis, and 
around which cluster the holiest of memories. Here in the 
valley, too, are the orchards and the meadow lands that 
stretch off to where the Blue Ridge bound the horizon; 
here the same tiny river winds its way from among the 
mountains, down past a spot called "Paradise," where tra- 


dition has it Our Lady appeared some time in the eighteenth 
century foretelling the presence in this Maryland valley of 
Mother Seton's Daughters. I lere is the great establishment 
of St* Joseph's, the mother house of her cornette Daugh- 
ters, and here the school she founded, an institution that 
continues to exert an influence of the first importance on 
the destinies of Catholic education in America, This is 
Emmitsburg, America's Assisi, the resting place of one of 
the nation's greatest women. 

But these picture scenes of the twentieth century, a 
far cry from those of the eighteenth, at whose close was 
born in the city of New York a little child who some day 
was to become the lovely Elizabeth Seton. The year of her 
birth, X774, brought a train of events which later culminated 
in Lexington and Concord. Early in this year the English 
government passed the "Intolerable Acts," a series of un- 
just legislations directed against the freedom of the Ameri- 
can people. But these repressive measures had merely 
quickened the determination of the colonists to endure no 
longer the yoke of British intolerance. Everywhere the 
torcfr of freedom was enkindling the fires of patriotism in 
the breasts of the harassed people. The American Revo- 
lution was in the making. The first Continental Congress 
convened in Philadelphia, September 5, 1774, at Carpen- 
ter's Hall, as a formal protest against foreign tyranny and 
to, plan for the future of a new nation. But if war and 
bloodshed encompassed the city of her nativity, it is safe 
to, conjecture that the little one's cradle was shielded from 
the confusion and peril such events naturally occasion, and 
while Washington and Jefferson were endeavoring to lay 
the foundation stones of their great political structure the 
young Elizabeth Ann was waxing strong and lovely, the 
feyarite daughter of the Bayley 'household. Doctor Richard 
Bayley, her father, was an eminent physician of wealth and 


standing, and her mother, like her father, a member of one 
of New York's oldest families. The former was descended 
from a family of the landed gentry of Norfolkshire, Eng- 
land, and was attached to the staff of Sir Guy Carleton, 
one of the commanders-in-chief of the English army in 
America. Her mother, Catherine Charlton, was the daugh- 
ter of the Reverend Richard Charlton, rector of St. An- 
drew's Episcopal Church, Staten Island. It so pleased God, 
however, that the child was never to remember the sweetness 
of a mother's love, for Mrs. Bayley died when Elizabeth 
was three years old. The child seems to have grasped 
something of this tragedy, for from the beginning she knew 
here was a loss that never could be repaired. But the years 
passed as they always do for children, fleeting hours of 
sunshine and little storm clouds, with scarcely a thought of 
the morrow and not much more of the past. Yet for Eliza- 
beth they were somewhat different. She was her father's 
constant companion, and in her stepmother, Charlotte Bar- 
clay, daughter of Andrew Barclay and Helen Roosevelt, 
she found, as she later described her, a "woman of rare and 
sweet attainments." Moreover, she was living in a period 
of national unrest and disorder, with privations and suffer- 
ings that must have made an indelible impression upon her 
awakening intelligence. Her education rested, in great 
measure, on Doctor Bayley himself, for New York during 
the stormy years of the Revolution afforded little facility 
for the training of its children. The father devoted a great 
part of his time, theretofore given over entirely to the de- 
mands that his position as an eminent surgeon made upon 
him, to the all-important duty of forming the mind and 
heart of his daughter. Hence Elizabeth came to possess 
a solidity of understanding, the peculiar result of being 
trained by a cultured masculine intellect. Doctor White, 
in his biography of Mother Seton, furnishes an admirable 


picture of the relationship that existed between Colonial 
New York's most prominent physician and his little 
daughter : 

Almost continually under the eye of her father, 
[she] conceived for him all the affection that a child 
can entertain for a parent. This unbounded attach- 
ment she manifested in various ways. Frequently, 
when at school, she would learn her task quickly, re- 
peat it, and then watch a favorable opportunity of 
eluding the vigilance of her preceptress, in order to 
run down the street to meet her father, who passed 
that way, embrace him, and then hasten back before 
the old lady could notice her absence. She not only 
regarded him as her protector, but, with that generous 
disposition which knows how to appreciate a benefit, 
she repaid his anxiety and kindness with the practice 
of every virtue that could gratify the paternal heart. 
Filial piety was the spring of all her actions the incen- 
tive to all her exertions. Though incapable of under- 
standing the importance of study at her tender age, 
she valued her scholastic exercises because prescribed 
by her father. "French and music must have their 
hours," said he. This was sufficient to recommend 
them, and to excite her diligent application. 

Father Reville, S.J., in his pamphlet, "The First Ameri- 
can Sister of Charity," affords another angle of the little 
Elizabeth's disposition: 

As far as his (Doctor Bayley's) duties would allow, 
he presided over her studies. His word was law. The 
little New Yorker liked neither French nor music, and 
independent American that she was, flung her music 
book and her grammar aside, declaring that she would 
have no such foreign importations. But Doctor Bay- 
ley was an old-fashioned father, and even Miss Eliza- 
beth Ann Bayley, loved, petted, and idolized though she 


was, was not to be the mistress in this household. A 
word of warning soon brought the wayward little rebel 
back to the hated French and the neglected piano. 

From childhood the religious tendencies in the soul of 
Elizabeth were clearly manifest. By nature religious, and 
inclined to piety, she showed an unusual love of prayer and 
self-sacrifice. She felt drawn to those practices in the 
Anglican Church which it had retained from Catholicism. 
She loved the Sacred Scriptures, finding especially in the 
Psalms and Isaias Divine founts of life and love, from 
which she drank freely. Next to the Bible, The Imitation 
of Christ held for her the greatest charm. Often she would 
take these favorite books to the seashore, or to the woods 
that surrounded her father's place at Craigdon-on-the-Hud- 
son, or at the one at New Rochelle, and read for hours, 
learning many of their passages by heart. She had a par- 
ticular devotion to the sacred person of the Savior; she 
looked upon Him not as the cold, unreal Christ of the 
Protestants, but as a Lover of souls and their Redeemer, 
kind, compassionate, understanding, yet withal the Second 
Person of the Blessed Trinity and divinely omnipotent. 
Whenever the sacred name of Jesus was pronounced in her 
presence, she followed the sweet Catholic custom of bowing 
her head. She wore a small crucifix on her breast as a 
token of love for her crucified Savior. She longed to be 
united to the Body and Blood of Christ and, although she 
knew that her own Church could provide nothing else but 
the mere elements of bread and wine as a figure of the life- 
giving reality, yet she prepared herself for their reception 
with the greatest fervor and gratitude. She loved to think 
of the guardian angels and prayed for their guidance and 
protection. She devoted some time every evening to an 
examination of conscience, going over carefully in her mind 
the thoughts and actions of the day, reproaching herself for 


the faults she might have committed, and asking the as- 
sistance of her heavenly friends to lead her soul in the ways 
of righteousness to the feet of God* 

Elizabeth was fifteen years of age when George Wash- 
ington was inaugurated in New York as first President of 
the United States. Already she was blooming into the love- 
liness of womanhood, one of the belles of old New York. 
She moved in the best society ^of the day, yet she was not 
affected or imperious. Her character was forceful but 
gentle; her manner, even to the servants of the household, 
was most cordial. And her cheerfulness was so infectious 
that she was a general favorite of young and old alike. Yet 
there was about her a certain dignity and maturity of judg- 
ment that stamped her as most unusual for her age. 

Elizabeth's choice for a husband was a handsome and 
wealthy scion of one of New York's oldest families, 
William Magee Seton, a young merchant of excellent char- 
acter and business prospects. He had been educated in 
England and had received the broadening influence of travel 
on the Continent. His ancestors had figured for centuries 
in Scottish romance and history, whereas the American 
branch of the family was as .prominent for good works as 
were the Old World members illustrious for deeds of valor. 
But if the name had been great in the past, it was to be- 
come far more glorious as a result of the alliance which 
took place January 25, 1794, when Elizabeth Bayley was 
united in marriage to William Magee Seton by Doctor 
Samuel Provost, the Episcopalian Bishop of New York. 

The early years of Elizabeth's married life were filled 
with happiness and contentment. All the success that at- 
tended her husband's ventures she attributed to an Ever- 
bountiful Creator. It was in the dispensations of Provi- 
dence, however, that the happiness of her home life should 
not continue much longer and that the most severe trials 
should follow in rapid succession. Toward the close -of the 


century the Seton interest in the markets of the day began 
to suffer because of the French spoliations and the general 
vicissitudes of mercantile life. But in the midst of these 
rising difficulties Elizabeth proved an inestimable support 
to her husband in his trials. The following prayer which 
seems to relate to this particular situation shows something 
of the strength of mind she exhibited under the strain to 
which the threatening financial ruin had subjected her: 

The cup that our Father has given us, shall we not 
drink it ? O Blessed Savior, by the bitterness of Thy 
pains we may estimate the force of our love; we are 
sure of Thy kindness and compassion, if Thou so 
ordainest it, welcome disappointment and poverty, sick- 
ness and pain, welcome even shame and contempt and 
calumny. If this be a rough and thorny path, it is one 
which Thou hast trod before us. Where we see Thy 
footsteps we cannot repine. Even here Thou canst 
more than compensate us for any temporal sufferings, 
by the possession of that peace which the world can 
neither give nor take away. 

The path that God had asked Elizabeth Seton to walk 
upon was, indeed, a thorny one. In June, 1798, her much loved 
father-in-law, the elder Seton, passed away. Elizabeth 
mourned for him no less than if she were his daughter. 
Then in the summer of 1801 the yellow fever epidemic 
made harsh demands upon her father, who some years be- 
fore had been appointed to superintend the Quarantine 
Hospital established by the government to prevent any in- 
fectious diseases from reaching the growing city of New 
York. Doctor Bayley was to be seen everywhere among 
the sick and dying on Staten Island, where the vessels lately 
arrived from Europe were detained at quarantine. The 
disease finally struck down the physician himself, and Eliza- 
beth, more fearful for his soul than for his body, made her 
way to the cradle of her infant Catherine, her fourth child, 


ami clasping the little one in her arms, raised it to heaven, 
at the same time exclaiming: U O Jesus, my merciful Father 
and (iod! take this little innocent offering; I give it to Thee 
with all my heart; take it, my Lord, but save my Father's 
soul/ 1 But God did not require such a sacrifice, for Doctor 
Bayley died with the Holy Name upon his lips, confident 
of mercy and of a reward exceedingly great for the charity 
he had exercised in his attendance upon the plague stricken. 
It was from this superabundant charity of her father that 
Elizabeth had imbibed an increased desire to alleviate suffer- 
ing, a stronger love for those in trouble, and a greater de- 
termination to be of the highest service to every one who 
called upon her generosity. Already she had helped found 
the first charitable organization in the city of New York, 
"The Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small 
Children"; and throughout the city, because of her daily 
visits to the poor and her ministrations to the sick and dying, 
she was known as the "Protestant Sister of Charity." To 
Doctor Bayley, therefore, in a certain sense America owes 
its first Sister of Charity. 

After her father's death, Elizabeth seemed to grow more 
fervent in her religious practices. There was a deepening in 
her spiritual perception and a greater desire to know in all 
things the will of God and how to fulfill it. It was well 
for her to seek this knowledge, for greater crosses were to 
try her soul in a crucible of suffering. The financial difficul- 
ties of her family instead of lessening constantly increased, 
and a decline in her husband's health became manifest. 
Physicians urged a sea voyage for the invalid if he were to 
regain his former vigor and thus be able to retrieve his 
fortunes. Such a journey in those days was fraught with 
dangers that now seem staggering, but to Elizabeth it was 
the only course to follow. The sunny skies of Italy began to 
beckon William, He remembered from years before the 
kind hospitality of the Filicchi brothers, distinguished mer- 


chants of Leghorn, and their many subsequent invitations 
to return for a protracted visit. Yielding to the urgings of 
his physician and friends he began immediate preparations 
for the voyage. Elizabeth felt that her place was at the 
side of her husband, and although her going with him neces- 
sitated a separation from her children, yet she did not hesi- 
tate to make the sacrifice. As in the past and in all other 
situations, here too her selflessness and courage never fal- 
tered. She decided to take her eldest child, Anna Maria, 
now nine years old, for she felt that the little one, who was 
never robust, would benefit by the sea voyage, and perhaps 
be of assistance in the care of her father. The three Setons 
set sail from New York, on the Shepherdess, October 2, 
1803, for the land that was to be for the wife and mother 
a land of sorrow and separation yet at the same time a land 
of wonders, supernatural and faith-giving. If Elizabeth 
Seton were to enter it a Protestant she was not to depart 
until her heart had become thoroughly Catholic, and her 
soul ready to be received, as she later expressed it, "into 
the Ark of Peter." 

After an uneventful voyage, the Shepherdess dropped 
anchor in the port of Leghorn, just as the Angelus was 
sounding over the city. Unfortunately, however, the ves- 
sel was the first to bring news of the yellow fever, then 
prevalent in New York, and as it had sailed without a 
health certificate, its only passengers, the Setons, were 
ordered to the Lazaretto or quarantine hospital. Here 
the invalid was placed upon a ship's mattress on the damp 
stone floor where for six weeks he suffered day and night, 
constantly growing weaker, until his death was expected 
almost any moment. During this great ordeal the con- 
stancy, and tenderness exercised by Elizabeth was heroism 
of the highest order. Her journal relating the incidents 
of this period of quarantine is one of the most beautiful 
contributions made to Catholic literature in modern times. 


It is an unaffected record of a great sorrow and an heroic 
devotion, of a perfect submission to the Will of God in 
all things, and a sincere desire to come closer to Him who 
was permitting these sufferings. It reveals her as a model 
wife and mother, a prefiguration of what later she was 
to accomplish as America's first Sister of Charity. On 
December 19, the Setons were allowed to leave the Laza- 
retto for a house in Pisa, overlooking the Arno, but scarcely 
had the Glorias of Elizabeth's first Catholic Christmas 
ended when death came for William. He passed away 
December 27, 1803, and was buried in the Protestant cem- 
etery at Leghorn. 

The home of the Filicchis in Leghorn had preserved the 
memory of William Seton as he had appeared in the days 
of his youth. This same house welcomed his widow and 
orphan the day after his death. The poignancy of Eliza- 
beth's grief rendered her almost insensible to her sur- 
roundings. As she herself said, "My soul was roaming 
among the clouds, winging its flight toward William and 
ceaselessly repeating: C O God, Thou art my God. Here 
I am alone in the world, with Thee and my dear little ones. 
But Thou art my Father and doubly theirs 1 J " And God 
did not leave them comfortless. Not only did ministra- 
tions of the Filicchis heal some of the wounds of their 
tender hearts, but Elizabeth experienced something of the 
solace the Catholic Church affords its children in times of 
sorrow. For the first time in her life she witnessed the 
actual workings of the Church in the genuine Catholic 
household in which she found herself, and felt something 
of these workings when she accompanied the Filicchis on 
their visits, to the churches of Leghorn and Florence, or 
when they stopped at quiet roadside shrines to attend Mass 
or receive Holy Communion. She experienced them again 
when she came to know the meaning of those strange pro- 
cessions, when through the streets the coming of a priest 


in cassock, stole and surplice was announced by the tinkling 
of a bell, and when the passers-by would kneel in adoration 
of their Jesus who was being carried as Viaticum to the 
dying. Elizabeth would kneel, too, and pray the while 
that, if her Lord was really passing by, He would bless 
her and be her guide in this time of trouble. From Antonio 
Filicchi she learned how to make the Sign of the Cross and 
with what awe did she not trace for the first time, on her 
forehead, this symbol of man's redemption. She became 
familiar with many of the prayers and practices that Cath- 
olics hold most sacred, experiences that could not but have 
a most salutary effect upon her heart and intelligence. Up 
to this time she little imagined a more secure way to reach 
Heaven than that which she had been taught to follow. 
But now that the crudeness of Protestantism had shaken 
her previous certainty about it, she began to pray that if 
she were not in the right way God would graciously lead 
her to it. Meanwhile, His grace was never wanting. He 
continued to unfold before her the superior claims of the 
Catholic Church, with the result that in a few months she 
made rapid strides in the knowledge of Catholicism and 
her soul advanced far along the road of holiness. Already 
she began to long for a union with Jesus in the Blessed 
Sacrament; already she had found in the Blessed Virgin 
a second mother. In a moment of excessive distress she 
wrote at this time: 

I opened a prayer book of Mrs. Filicchi which lay 
on the table, and my eyes rested upon the prayer of 
Saint Bernard to the Blessed Virgin, begging her to 
be our mother; and I said to her, with such a certainty 
that God would refuse nothing to His Mother, and 
that she could not help loving and pitying the poor 
souls for whom He died, that I felt really I had a 
mother, which you know my foolish heart so often 
lamented to have lost in my early days. From the 


first remembrance of infancy I have always looked, 
in all the plays of childhood and wildness of youth, 
to the clouds for my mother; and at that moment it 
seemed as if I had found even more than her in the 
tenderness and pity of a mother; so I cried myself to 
sleep in her heart. 

Grace had entered the soul of Elizabeth and would have 
led at once to a formal retraction of Protestantism had 
not her immediate departure from Italy prevented. The 
little ones at home were calling her and she could stay 
away no longer. She and Anna Maria set sail on the 
Flamingo, April 8, with Antonio Filicchi, who was unwill- 
ing to see her make the long ocean voyage unaccompanied. 
They spent the time on board by considering the exterior 
practices of the Catholic faith and discussing certain points 
of dogma which still perplexed Elizabeth. For fifty-six 
days the ship moved westward, and all the while, on board 
and in the quiet of her cabin, she united her prayers with 
those of her dear friends in Italy, thus fortifying herself 
against the struggle she knew to be awaiting her in 
America. And when the Flamingo reached New York, 
June 3, 1804, she clasped to her bosom her four other 
children and then courageously faced the days that lay 
before her. 

Back in New York Elizabeth soon learned that the Seton 
fortune had been wrecked and that the upkeep of her little 
family depended entirely upon her relatives, who at first 
were willing to accept the burden, but upon learning of 
Elizabeth's Catholic sympathies, made their assistance con- 
ditional upon her adhering to the Episcopal communion. 
But Elizabeth's convictions had been shaken to their very 
foundations and in some way or other she decided that she 
must build anew, even on the Rock of Peter if necessary, 
if her soul was to find peace and contentment. The fierce 
struggle of truth went on in her soul against all that she 


held most dear. When her people realized that a change 
had really taken place in her convictions they rose up as 
one against her. She begged for the truth and the courage 
to follow it. From her place in St. Paul's Church and in 
Trinity, where she attended the Protestant services, her 
thoughts would travel to the poor little Tabernacle in old 
St. Peter's, on Barclay Street, New York's first Catholic 
house of worship. She knew that it held the same Treasure 
that caused the erection of the Old World's greatest tem- 
ples. She knew that its cross was beckoning to her with 
an insistency that brooked no refusal. Yet she dare not 
pass beneath it as a worshiper, although her heart was 
with the little Catholic congregation, poor unfortunate 
exiles of Erin, whose faith was identical with those loved 
friends of Italy, identical with the faith which proposed 
itself to her heart as that of Christ's own revelation. How 
she envied these first New York Catholics as she saw them 
hurrying to early morning Mass, there to receive, as she 
had often seen the Filicchis receive in their chapel on the 
Arno, their Lord and God in Holy Communion. They 
were at peace, whereas her own soul was being torn with 
conflict. But even in this disturbed condition of mind she 
realized that it is only when mortals descend to the depths 
of suffering that they can hope to ascend the heights of 
sanctity. While she was not striving for great holiness, 
yet good Christian that she was she knew that God had 
His own designs in permitting her this agony. Kind and 
persuasive words of friends and relatives had given way 
to reproaches and maledictions, to be followed by a silence 
that was to be a signal of complete abandonment. Yet she 
was firm and unyielding. 

It was God's will that Elizabeth Seton should be the 
sport of conflicting sentiments in order that her ultimate 
triumph over error might be rendered the more signal, 
and that her affections might be more perfectly disengaged 


from creatures. On one hand was Bishop Carroll whom 
the Filicchis had informed of the spiritual struggles of the 
widowed convert, making of her the object of his prayers 
and solicitude. On the other the Reverend Mr. Hobart, 
her lifelong friend and now her pastor, besieging her with 
arguments in favor of the Anglican doctrines and attack- 
ing bitterly those of Catholicism. Confused by the latter's 
reasoning, to which were added the love and affection she 
held for him and for her Protestant relatives, she suffered 
the temptation to go on as before in the Anglican com- 
munion. The faces of her children haunted her whenever 
a decision to become a Catholic became more imperative. 
She knew that peace would follow any sacrifice she would 
impose upon herself, but she must hesitate to inflict upon 
her little ones unnecessary suffering. So crucified was her 
soul in this contest that she cries out in her anguish: "It 
will end by destroying my life if protracted much longer." 
Not many are privileged to ascend those heights where 
with outstretched arms stands the bleeding figure of the 
Crucified. As the days passed with all their added trials 
and struggles, Elizabeth did not ask the reason for this 
intense suffering, but kept on, sometimes crushed to earth 
with the apparent hopelessness of the situation, yet again . 
lifted high by invisible hands of love and understanding. 
But always was her trust supreme, and even if she were 
being led from the persons and places most dear to her 
heart, her faith told her that there would be compensation 
a hundredfold at the end of the journey on which she knew 
Christ was taking her. 

It was on the feast of the Epiphany that the star of faith 
illumined the darkness of her soul and pointed out clearly 
for her the path that she was to follow. Opening a volume 
of Bourdaloue's sermons, her eyes fell on words that 
seemed to be addressed to her alone, that morning of the 


O you who have lost the star of faith ! . . . 

On and on she read, the words of command as well as 
direction, to seek out God in the simplicity of her heart 
and to consult His priests that they might teach her the 
science of sciences, that of finding eternal salvation. When 
she closed the book her resolution had been taken. Some 
years later she wrote of this day of spiritual triumph: 

O you who have lost the star of faith ! The anguish, 
the distress which rushed upon me anew like a torrent ! 
To see a Catholic priest! Oh! it was my supreme 
desire, my only desire on earth. 

On March 14, 1805, after making a formal abjuration 
of heresy, Elizabeth was received into the Catholic Church 
at the hands of the Reverend Matthew O'Brien and in the 
presence of Antonio Filicchi who offered himself to God 
as a security for her promises. She returned home, she 
says : 

. . . light of heart and cool of head, the first time these 
many months, but not without begging our Lord to 
wrap my heart deep in that open side, so well described 
in the beautiful Crucifixion, or lock it up in His little 
Tabernacle where I shall now rest forever. 

Then came the preparation for her first confession. In 
this she found no great difficulty, for, as she wrote, "truly 
my life has been well culled over in the bitterness of soul 
these months of sorrow passed." Following the sacrament 
of reconciliation she exclaimed: 

Oh, how awful those words of unloosing after thirty 
years of bondage ! I felt as if my chains fell as those 
of Saint Peter at the touch of the divine Messenger. 
My God, what new scenes for my soul ! 

In thinking of her approaching Communion Elizabeth 
wrote : 


Annunciation Day, I shall be made one with Him 
who said "Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My 
Blood, you shall not have life in you!" I count these 
days and hours yet a few more of hope and expec- 
tation, and then . . . How bright the sun these 
morning walks of preparation! Deep snow or smooth 
ice, all to me the same I see nothing but the little 
bright cross on St. Peter's steeple. 

The memory of her First Holy Communion never passed 
from her mind. Annually she sanctified its anniversary 
with special acts of gratitude to God, recalling that day 
of days when she exclaimed: 

At last God is mine, and I am His. Now let all go 
its round* I have received Him. ... I feel all the 
powers of my soul held fast by Him who came with 
so much majesty to take possession of His little poor 
kingdom. An Easter Communion now, in my green 
pastures amidst the refreshing fountains for which I 
thirsted truly. 

Once Elizabeth had been received into the Catholic 
Church her separation from old-time friends and com- 
panions became complete and final. But in the Filicchis, 
Bishop Carroll and a few other devoted Catholics, she 
found means to face the crisis that had now come upon 
her. Although poverty had succeeded Seton affluence, 
and the most bitter opposition from -friends and relatives 
made the future dark and foreboding, yet she was never 
disheartened. She opened a little school near St. Mark's 
Church on the Bowery, but due to rampant anti-Catholic 
feeling, it was a failure. Then she contemplated removal 
to Canada where her little ones might have the advantage 
of a Catholic education and she some rest and spiritual 
consolation. But America needed her in those days, just 
as it needs her daughters to-day; for then, as well as now, 


there were little children without a Christian education, 
the poor and ignorant the object of little consideration. 
And here again God's Providence was clearly manifest in 
the life of this great American foundress. 

Father Du Bourg, of Baltimore, Superior of the Ameri- 
can Sulpicians who had said mass one morning toward the 
close of August, 1807, in St. Peter's Church, New York, 
was particularly struck with the spirituality of one woman, 
a widow so she seemed to be, in her deep mourning of those 
days, who haH approached Holy Communion. Following 
the mass, Father Du Bourg had scarcely inquired of the 
pastor the identity of the unusual communicant when she 
was ushered into his presence. It was the widow of Wil- 
liam Seton, he was told, whose remarkable conversion was 
still on the lips of many Catholics and non-Catholics in 
New York, Baltimore and elsewhere. Father Du Bourg 
listened to the story of her trials and touched with the 
pathos of this recital asked her to come to Baltimore, which 
as yet had no Catholic school for girls. Elizabeth prayed 
over the proposition before making an answer. She wrote 
to Bishop Carroll, who in turn consulted Fathers Cheverus 
and Matignon, both of Boston. All subscribed to Father 
Du Bourg' s plan although nothing was done until the fol- 
lowing spring, at which time it was finally decided that 
Elizabeth should remove to Baltimore, and, in a house 
adjoining St. Mary's Seminary, open a school for the Cath- 
olic girls of the city. She loved New York, with its old 
familiar scenes and the dear haunts of childhood and young 
womanhood, but her heart was in her new-found faith, and 
so she did not hesitate to go among strangers in a new land 
and begin life all over again. On June 4, 1808, she looked 
at her birthplace for the last time and bade farewell to the 
graves of the loved ones whom death had deprived of a 
part in this domestic tragedy. The leave taking must have 
been painful, for Elizabeth once remarked that 


the nearer a soul is truly united to God, the more its 
sensibilities are increased to every being of His Crea- 
tion, much more to those whom it is bound to love by 
the tenderest and most endearing ties. 

But whatever were the heart pangs that early June morn- 
ing when the little sailing packet took her and her children 
from the port of New York, it is safe to say that they were 
wiped away forever when eleven days later, on the eve of 
Corpus Christi, she saw in the distance the wooded shores 
of Maryland, and the lights of Baltimore sent out the wel- 
come of her new-found home. The following morning she 
first set foot on the soil of Maryland and a little later 
reached St. Mary's Seminary, just as the choir was singing 
the Kyrie Eleison as a part of the ceremony of consecration 
of the seminary chapel. Elizabeth and her children 
entered the building and witnessed the glorious scene before 
them. To the mother this was but another manifestation 
of God's goodness to His outcasts, and of their happy 
reception she wrote at the time that: "Human nature could 
hardly bear it. Your imagination can never conceive the 
splendor, the glory of the scene." To-day the Chapel of 
old St. Mary's Seminary, on Paca Street, Baltimore, the 
premier institution for the education of the American clergy, 
is a sacred spot to all those who love and venerate Mother 

The house to which Elizabeth had been led by Bishop 
Carroll and Father Du Bourg was, in her own words, 'Very 
neat, placed between two orchards, and two miles from the 
city." It had the advantage, likewise, of standing close 
to the chapel, which was open "from dawn until nine in 
the evening-" Here in September she commenced her little 
school, where a number of boarders and as many, if not 
more, day students asked admittance. In a short time she 
was joined by three young women who, attracted to the 


Baltimore convert, wished to dedicate their lives to the edu- 
cation of children. 

The days of summer passed and the hills of Maryland 
put on their most vivid colors. Elizabeth was very happy 
in her new-found work, so very happy that she began to 
look forward to the time when in a more solemn manner 
she could consecrate her life to the God who had lavished 
His graces upon her. This opportunity presented itself 
before the close of 1808, when a Mr. Samuel Sutherland 
Cooper, a convert and a student of St. Mary's, offered a 
certain amount of money to Father Du Bourg for the 
advancement of the Catholic religion, asking if Elizabeth 
would be responsible for the undertaking. On the same day 
that Mr. Cooper made his proposal to Father Du Bourg, 
Elizabeth approached the priest on the subject of enlarging 
her work of education and told him that she had seen 
Mr. Cooper kneeling directly in front of her in the chapel 
that very morning and wondered if he would give the 
money necessary for the undertaking. Father Du Bourg 
knew that God's hand was in this planning. Continuing 
to look upon the affair as a manifestation of the Divine 
Will and after making of it the object of a constant thought 
and prayer, he brought the two converts together. An 
agreement was readily effected and thus the great work of 
St. Vincent de Paul in America was launched within the 
shadow of St. Mary's Seminary. 

Meanwhile, the little house on Paca Street continued to 
welcome other aspirants to the spiritual life until there were 
six: Cecilia O'Conway, daughter of the learned Irish school- 
master, Mathias O'Conway, of Philadelphia, Maria Mur- 
phy, niece of Matthew Carey of the same city, Mary Ann 
Butler, Susan Glossy, Rose White and Catharine Mullen. 
Then came Cecilia and Harriet Seton, Elizabeth's young 
sisters-in-law, who loved her dearly, the first a Catholic, 


the second soon to follow in her sister's footsteps. Eliz- 
abeth, on the other hand, was being hailed on all sides as 
the mother of a new and spiritual family, whose proudest 
distinction would be to wear the badge of Christian per- 
fection. Yet she was so penetrated with the awful respon- 
sibility of her position that she feared her unworthiness 
would spoil, in some measure at least, the plans God had 
in mind for the little community. This sense of inferiority 
caused her to kneel one day before her sisters and tearfully 
confess the most humiliating actions of her life. Then, 
with eyes raised to heaven, she added: 

My gracious God, you know my unfitness for this 
task. I who by my sins have so often crucified you. 
I blush with shame and confusion. How can I teach 
others, who know so little myself and am so miserable 
and imperfect? 

Father Du Bourg decided that the time had come for 
the society to assume as far as it was practicable the form 
of a community. No particular religious institute had yet 
been adopted but it was judged proper that Mother Seton 
should bind herself, at least for a time, by some special act 
of consecration to the life she had embraced. To this end 
she made a vow, privately, in the presence of Bishop Carroll 
to embrace poverty, in whose arms she desired to live and 
die, and from which, indeed, she had no means of escape; 
to promise chastity so dear and lovely that she esteemed 
it her true delight to cherish it and, above all, to bind 
herself to obedience, the true protection and safeguard of 
her soul. 

It was Bishop Carroll who gave to Elizabeth the sweet 
name of Mother. She had heard it spoken by her chil- 
dren from the time they had been able to form their little 
thoughts into words. Now it had taken on an added sig- 
nificance. Mother of the souls entrusted to her care 1 The 


title with all its sweetness and dignity filled her with fear. 
But again those who gathered around her her spiritual 
children so strengthened her against this temptation of 
unworthiness that she became in every sense all that the 
name of Mother implies. Even those not of her household 
learned to love the little widow living the life of a religious 
in the school on Paca Street and spoke of her only as 
Mother Seton. 

After Father Du Bourg's appointment by Bishop Carroll 
as Superior of the new institute, it was agreed that the 
community should be called "Sisters of St. Joseph," for 
Mother Seton wished to place her undertaking under the 
special patronage of the foster father of the Savior. At 
this time the sisters adopted a habit not unlike that worn 
by some religious Mother Seton had seen in Italy. The 
dress of black had a short cape, and the headdress con- 
sisted of a white muslin cap with a crimped border, with 
a black crepe band around the head, fastened under the 
chin. It was understood, of course, that this arrangement 
was merely provisional, and was to continue only until a 
decision had been reached by the superiors regarding the 
exact nature of the institute. But the very fact of the 
adoption of any sort of a religious costume was of no small 
significance in the evolution of the new community, and 
when sisters appeared for the first time in their habit on 
the feast of Corpus Christi, 1809, in the chapel of the 
Seminary, Father Du Bourg was overcome with joy at the 
sight of the newly adopted conventual garb, for he had long 
desired to see this outward manifestation of the religious 
nature of the new institute. Just when the cap of white 
was changed to that of black, the costume in which Mother 
Seton appears now in practically all of her photographs, 
is not definitely known. There is a tradition in her com- 
munity, however, that Mother Seton herself never wore 
this black cap, but that she retained the first headdress of 


the Paca Street community. It is regrettable that no actual 
photograph of Mother Seton as a religious is extant to-day, 
for the current reproduction so familiar to American Cath- 
olics was made after her death. The features are true 
to the reality in the main, but the costume is not hers, nor 
is it like the one she wore as Mother of the Sisters of 
Charity. But this matters little, for even at the mother 
house in Maryland where the black cap was a familiar 
sight for almost half a century, the habit worn by the 
sisters is no longer black, nor is the headdress like that of 
the early days. Instead, the habit is of blue and the head- 
dress the white linen cornette, which was adopted by the 
Emmitsburg community some twenty or more years after 
the death of Mother Seton. 

Baltimore must ever be remembered as the birthplace 
of the American Sisters of Charity, although it was ill- 
suited at the time for a school such as intended by those 
interested in the new sisterhood. The Sulpicians wanted 
the school to remain near the Seminary but Mr. Cooper 
argued in favor of Emmitsburg, a little village about fifty 
miles northwest of Baltimore, close to the Pennsylvania 
border line, and lying between the upper stream of the 
Monocacy River, a tributary of the Potomac, and the Cat- 
ockin chain of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mr. Cooper's 
idea ultimately prevailed. Father Du Bourg went to 
Emmitsburg and, about a mile south of the village, found 
for sale a farm, which he purchased for the sisters. Hither 
they prepared to move in the summer of 1809, the exodus 
beginning on June 21 when Mother Seton bade farewell to 
the little house on Paca Street, past whose closed doors 
to-day hundreds of her cornette daughters go as they con- 
tinue the work which she inaugurated within the shadow 
of old St. Mary's. Mother Seton pioneered the way, in 
company with her lovely young daughter, Anna Maria, and 
with her sisters-in-law, Harriet and Cecilia Seton, and one 


of the sisters, Cecilia O'Conway. The journey of fifty 
miles, made in a canvas-covered, creaking wagon, was a 
happy one, despite the heat and dust and the thousand 
inconveniences they occasioned. But Mother Seton was on 
her way home, and the very joy of it caused her to redis- 
cover that delightful humor so evident in her before the 
trials of the past few years had almost crushed her natu- 
rally buoyant spirit. After telling how they were obliged 
to walk the horses all the way and how they themselves 
had to walk nearly half the time she adds that 

the natives were astonished as we went before the 
carriage. The dogs and pigs came out to meet us, and 
the geese stretched their necks in mute demand to know 
if we were any of their sort, to which we gave assent. 

After a two days' journey there came into view across 
the pastures the Emmitsburg valley, still beautiful with 
lingering springtime, sweet with the odors of dew and 
hedge and growing crabgrass. The sky was a deep azure, 
with scarcely a cloud in the entire heavens. The day was 
streaming red and orange in the east, and as the travelers 
came closer to the mountains they saw cut out ahead of 
them great purple forms dwindling away to the westward. 
They crossed the little Monocacy River, gurgling and 
splashing and tumbling on its rush to the Potomac, down 
through aisles of cedars, oaks and blossoming magnolias. 
About them blooms of the peach and plum trees had given 
way to the first fruits of summer; and underneath, the 
Virginia strawberry lay jeweled in its bed of moss and 
calycanthus. Vagrant honeysuckle was running riot over 
the rose hedges, and to right and left liana and scarlet 
jasmine reached out in trailing clusters to where thorn 
apples and rhododendrons peeped through the thickets. 
Here and there purple passion flowers lay in a bed of smilax 
and myrtle, or shared quiet woodland trails with chaste 


kalmias and begonias. Already, for it was early morning, 
the thrush and cardinal had roused the whole countryside, 
now from the choir heights of a gigantic cedar or catalpa, 
then from the purple pit of blooming iron weeds. The 
sound of the mass bell of Mount St. Mary's came float- 
ing across the valley. Mother Seton took in the scene 
before her. Always held fast by her natural penchant for 
the beauties of nature, this time she was overcome with 
the sense of God's unfailing Providence. For a while the 
sisters were domiciled in a log dwelling which Father 
Dubois had furnished them on the mountain, since their 
own home on the Fleming farm was not quite ready; but 
on the feast of St. Ignatius they moved to the valley, where 
to-day all of them, save one, are sleeping. 

Summer came and went and autumn dusted brown the 
hills with blooms of chestnut. The days of harvest drifted 
on peaceful, quiet. Meanwhile, the life at St. Joseph's 
passed very much the same, only sacrifice was added to 
each day's living. But as Mother Seton said, the daily 
Mass, and the happiness of possessing the Blessed Sacra- 
ment in Its tiny retreat, made it possible for them to love 
these inconveniences w r hich otherwise would have been 
insupportable. "So earnest was every heart," she con- 
tinues, "that carrot coffee, salt pork, and buttermilk, seemed 
yet too good a living." The revenue of the institution was 
not commensurate with the expenditures, and hence the 
community was soon reduced to a destitute condition. The 
bread was of the coarsest rye, and the coffee made of 
carrots and sweetened with molasses. "For many months," 
one of the sisters wrote, u we often did not know where 
the next day's meal would come from." On Christmas 
Day that year they had for their dinner smoked herrings 
and a spoonful of molasses for each sister. The house 
was poorly constructed and in the lofts where the sisters 
had their beds, the snow came in and covered them as they 


slept But all these privations they welcomed as marks of 
divine protection. Often Mother Seton would exclaim: 
"Ah, my sisters, let us love Him when we shall be in our 
dear eternity, then we shall know the value of suffering 
here below." 

Madame DeBarberey in her Elizabeth Seton says : 

The Sisters, moreover, were asked to use any old 
clothes they might have, colored or not, in order to 
save their religious habits. Fuel cost almost nothing, 
yet they economized on heat as much as possible. In 
the midst of all these privations, the community, peace- 
ful and trusting in God, redoubled its fervor and 
remained holily cheerful. Owing to a pious emulation, 
they seemed least concerned with the things they 
lacked. They became accustomed to forgetfulness of 
comfort and well-being. They learned to endure the 
cold, to consider themselves sufficiently covered with 
a thin coverlet, and to take pleasure in wearing old 
garments, patched in a hundred places. 

So earnest was every heart (said Mother Seton) 
that carrot coffee, salt pork, and buttermilk seemed 
yet too good a living. 

But if sufferings came to Mother Seton, even in her new 
existence, consolations likewise were never wanting. Shortly 
after the removal to Emmitsburg, she had the happiness 
of seeing her sister-in-law Harriet Seton embrace Catholi- 
cism. The young girl had followed Elizabeth to Maryland, 
intending to return to New York after she had made a 
short visit with her sister-in-law. But grace triumphing 
in the soul of the young woman, she became a Catholic. 
This being done she knew it folly to return to her Protes- 
tant associations and so she decided to remain indefinitely 
with Mother Seton. The following December, however, 
she died at St. Joseph's and was buried in the little woods 
near the sisters' dwelling, the first to find a resting place 


at Emmitsburg. The following year Harriet's sister, 
Cecilia, died in Baltimore where she had been taken to 
more competent physicians. On April 30, 1810, her body 
was removed to St. Mary's Chapel, a spot that was becom- 
ing by its associations dearer and dearer to the heart of 
Mother Seton. With admirable resignation, the latter took 
her "darling Cecilia" back to the valley and placed her at 
the side of Harriet. 

In February of the next year, 1810, the sisters took up 
their residence in their new house which had been built in 
order to take care of the increasing community. It was of 
logs, two stories in height, and faced the south. The day 
following the removal to the new home Mother Seton 
formally opened her school, to which a number of children 
sought admission both from the village and from the sur- 
rounding country. In June the total number of pupils was 
forty, and before the close of the year the boarders alone 
had increased to thirty. Although the institution was orig- 
inally intended for the education of the poorer classes, the 
indebtedness of the house and the want of adequate sup- 
port rendered the admission of the rich unavoidable. As 
time went on the increased expenses threatened the very 
existence of the institution, but the generosity of friends, 
especially that of the Filicchis, rescued it from many dan- 
gers, and although it had to struggle, it gradually became 
the instrument of extensive good in the hands of Divine 
Providence. For even in Mother Seton's time its reputa- 
tion reached into many sections of the country. Students 
were numbered from far and near, and the names of chil- 
dren of the first families of the land could be found on its 

To insure the solidity of the new foundation, Mother 
Seton and her Superiors, after much prayer and reflection, 
decided to model it on the institution of the Sisters of 
Charity, founded in France in the sixteenth century by 


Saint Vincent de Paul. This great apostle of organized 
charity had made it possible for women to lead a religious 
life in the world and to secure their own salvation by min- 
istering to the wants, both spiritual and temporal, of their 
fellow creatures. They were not to be called "religious," 
for as their founder remarked in one of his conferences: 
"Who say 'religious' say cloistered and the Daughters of 
Charity must go everywhere. You are not therefore 

Likewise had he decided that they were to have no mon- 
asteries, save their hospitals and the homes of the poor; 
no cloisters save obedience; no grille, save the presence of 
God; no veil, save that of holy modesty; no chapel, save 
the parish church. Their vows were to bind them but for 
one year; consequently at the end of that time they were 
obliged to ask permission to renew them, so that their life 
of devotedness might have the crowning merit at each 
recurring anniversary of a voluntary assumption of the 
sweet yoke of charity, and that many vow days might be 
theirs in their service to the Master. From the French 
Sulpicians, all of whom had known the Sisters of Charity 
in the Old World, Mother Seton learned how the humble 
shepherd of the Landes Hill, because of his deep-rooted 
love for the Blessed Virgin and his compassionate heart 
for his fellow men, had brought into being the Sisters of 
Charity. The words of Lavedan, one of St. Vincent's 
latest biographers, had not as yet been formulated, but the 
story that Mother Seton heard was essentially the same, 
that, inspired by the Holy Spirit and through his devotion 
to the Mother of God, Vincent had "created that master- 
piece of love, the Sister of Charity . . . the good fairy 
whom God sent one morning from heaven to remain on 
earth forever even to the final destruction of the world," * 

1 Lavedan: The Heroic Life of Saint Vincent de Paul, New York, 1929, 
p. 208. 


Mother Seton was thrilled with the prospect of such a conse- 
cration. She listened eagerly to the tales of heroism in 
which these gray-clad, white-bonneted women of the Old 
World had figured so prominently for over a century. And 
what appealed to her practical nature was the knowledge 
that the Sister of Charity does not fast nor spend her time 
in contemplation; she must be active and never resting. As 
Lavedan expresses it: y 

Others might be called to a life of silence and con- 
templation, of kneeling and adoring, but this was not 
her vocation. Vincent did not ask it of her. He 
expected her to be active, to talk, to laugh, to sing 
songs, rather than canticles, and to be found every- 
where that life was busiest. So absorbing must her 
work be to body and soul, that he took from her the 
time for piety, as though it were a penance, . . . that 
her habit is of blue and white, in order to honor the 
Mother of God, that he crowned her with coif of the 
purest linen, with great wings on either side to make 
her journey easier; that she wore no veil that is for 
the cloistered religious but that her eyes would be 
protected from the world by two white walls meeting 
in a point straight ahead of her line of vision, so that 
she cannot lift her eyes without directing them toward 
heaven, that everything leads her in that direction. 

Mother Seton must have contrasted this masterpiece of 
spiritual symbolism with the little cap of crimped linen her 
own daughters were wearing. And woman that she was, 
did she not also wish for this romantic crown of Vincent's 
fashioning? This will never be known. But what is known, 
without much investigation, is that with all her heart she 
wanted to become a real Sister of Charity, a true daughter 
of the Christlike Vincent. And so negotiations were begun. 
Bishop Flaget, of Bardstown, Kentucky, was commissioned 

* Lavedan : op. cit. t New York, 1929, p. 209. 


to secure for the American community a copy of the Vin- 
centian rules and if possible secure the assistance of the 
Mother Society in the correct establishment of the Seton 
sisterhood. Bishop Flaget was partially successful. He 
secured a copy of the rules and constitutions, but sisters 
from the mother house were prevented by the French 
Government from leaving Bordeaux, where they were to 
sail for America in company with Bishop Flaget. The 
rules and constitutions were carefully examined by Arch- 
bishop Carroll and Father Dubois, the latter as Superior 
of St. Joseph's, and Father Nagot as Superior of the Sul- 
picians in Baltimore. After a few slight changes they were 
presented to Mother Seton and her sisters for adoption. 
This they did, following up the important act with an elec- 
tion of superiors. Mother Seton was chosen head of the 
community, which office she held by successive elections 
until death. The habit of black, the provisional dress of 
the sisterhood, was retained in its entirety, for the real 
Vincentian costume could only be given by sisters from 
the mother house itself. This was expected on a number 
of occasions during the years that followed, but each time 
obstacles prevented the original plans of the founders from 
being completed. It was not until after Mother Seton 
had passed away and the dress and cap of the early days 
had become recognized throughout America as a religious 
costume that St. Vincent's own habit, the white and the blue, 
the proper uniform of his children, was adopted by the 
Daughters of Mother Seton, first at the old home in the 
Maryland mountains and then throughout the entire coun- 
try. It was at this time that the American Sisters of 
Charity became affiliated with the original society of St. 
Vincent, thus accomplishing at this later date what had 
been denied to Mother Seton in her lifetime. The Ameri- 
can sisters had the same rule, it is true, and had kept it 
to the letter, but a rule without the spirit of an Order avails 


hut little. This spirit was supplied in 1850 when American 
sisters went to Paris ami returned to Kmmitsburg after a 
protracted stay at the mother house. Since that time the 
Daughters of Mother Seton in America form two prov- 
inces of the worldwide organization of St. Vincent and 
are under the direction of his present-day successor. 

Xo sooner had the rule of St. Vincent been adopted at 
St. Joseph's in 1810 than all went to work to make of 
themselves Sisters of Charity in every respect No one was 
more fervent in this striving than Mother Seton. She 
became a living example of that wise rule, upon which 
practically every active order in the Church is based to-day, 
that of honoring Jesus Christ as the source and model of 
all charity, by serving Him corporally and spiritually in the 
person of the poor, whether sick, children, or prisoners, 
also that of honoring the infancy of Christ by forming 
children to virtue and sowing in their minds the seeds of 
useful knowledge. Joining the exercises of an interior 
spiritual life with exterior employments, she aimed at 
Christian perfection and exhorted those around her to the 
practice of holiness. She endeavored to inculcate into each 
member of the sisterhood the fundamental principle of 
St. Vincent, that the spirit of the community is its very 
life, and that it must be a continual practice of humility, 
simplicity, and charity. To the three vows of poverty, 
chastity, and obedience she did not find it difficult to add 
that of service to the poor. For, years ago, she had so 
consecrated and dedicated her life to God. Ever since that 
time the poor had been the special objects of her attention 
and with St. Vincent she considered "the sick the blessing 
of the house." 

Some one has said that Mother Seton walked through 
life at the side of an open grave. Before her own death 
she saw those Setons who had followed her into the solitude 
of Emmitsburg pass away. And although she grieved over 


the graves of Harriet and Cecilia, when she was called 
upon to close the eyes of two of her own children, Anna 
Maria, in 1812, and little Rebecca, in 1816, her chalice was 
filled to overflowing. The former had begun to fail dur- 
ing that severe winter of 1 8 1 i-i 8 1 2, and, seeming to realize 
that she was not to get well, her greatest desire was to be 
a Sister of Charity and thus to consummate on the threshold 
of eternity the sacrifice she had made of her heart to God 
some years before. Father Dubois permitted the child to 
make her vows on January 30, 1812, and thus she became 
the first professed member of the American Sisters of 
Charity. Archbishop Carroll had visited her about this 
time and upon returning to Baltimore wrote the following 
to Mother Seton : "In viewing Anna almost as the happy 
inhabitant of another world, one felt for her an awful 

On the morning of March 12, she asked her little sisters, 
Catherine and Rebecca, to sing her favorite hymn. They 
consented to do so but the tremulous strains soon died away 
in sobs. Mother Seton kneeling beside the bed pressed the 
crucifix to the lips of her dying child, but as the death agony 
became more intense some of the sisters gently led the 
Mother to the chapel, where, in the presence of the Blessed 
Sacrament, she remained until the soul of her child had 
passed away. Anna was buried on March 13, only a few 
days remaining until she would have attained her eighteenth 
year. The sisters and pupils wept bitterly as the body was 
placed beside those of Harriet and Cecilia but Mother Seton 
remained silent and tearless. After the grave was covered 
over, she raised her eyes to Heaven and said slowly : "My 
Father, Thy will be done" ; then she turned silently away. 

Here it was, too, in the little woods to the rear of the 
sisters' house that four years later she laid to rest her 
youngest child, her darling Rebecca, who died in 1816 at 
the age of fourteen. Mother Seton saw the little one's 


health quickly disappear, hut her grief was somewhat tem- 
pered with the added realization that her child had already 
reached an eminent degree of sanctity. Father Brute, the 
chaplain of the sisters, perceived this also and once re- 
marked that no greater holiness had been seen in the valley 
of Emmitsburg. When Rebecca finally died Mother Seton 
grieved for her as might be expected of a mother; but even 
in this great anguish of heart she never once forgot her 
Te Denm. Her own room looked directly on the woods 
where all these loved ones slept, where her eyes were turned, 
so she said, "twenty times a day first thing in the morning, 
last at night, 7 ' for it kept up her heart "to think of those 
beautiful joyous souls." 

Mother Seton's zeal for souls prevented her from being 
content with the narrow confines of the Emmitsburg valley, 
and she, like many of God's greatest saints, longed for a 
more extended apostolate. The opportunity finally came 
in 1814, when the services of the Emmitsburg sisters were 
solicited for an orphan asylum in Philadelphia, and a second 
time in 1817 when they assumed charge of a like institution 
in New York City, the first links in that golden chain of 
love and devotedness that brings East and West, North and 
South, to Emmitsburg and to Mother Seton. 

But her crowning glory, perhaps, came in 1818 when she 
opened a free school for the children of the German church 
in Philadelphia, the first free parochial school conducted by 
sisters in America and the pioneer of the great parish 
schools that to-day rise under the shadow of the churches of 
the United States, the best promise for the future of 
American Catholicism. Hence it is that historians and edu- 
cators proclaim Elizabeth Seton the organizer and patron- 
ess of the parochial school system in America, she whose 
daughters in recent years did not hesitate to launch one of 
the greatest undertakings in the educational world to-day 
the foundation of the present flourishing society of Catho- 


lie graduates, the International Federation of Catholic 
Alumnae. It was indeed meet that from St. Joseph's Col- 
lege, Emmitsburg, Mother Seton's own convent school, ven- 
erable for years and holy deeds, should emanate in 1914 an 
organization that would successfully unite the great army of 
trained daughters of the Faith for the betterment of the 
educational status of Catholic women throughout the United 
States. This seems testimony of a nature most convincing 
that the work of Mother Seton in the field of Catholic edu- 
cation is of the first importance. Prophetic indeed were the 
words of the holy Cheverus, Bishop of Boston, which he 
addressed to Mother Seton when he learned of the estab- 
lishment of the Sisters of Charity: 

How admirable is Divine Providence 1 I see already 
numerous choirs of virgins following you to the Altar. 
I see your holy order diffusing itself in the different 
parts of the United States, spreading everywhere the 
good odor of Jesus Christ and teaching by their evan- 
gelical lives and pious instructions how to serve God in 
purity and holiness. I have no doubt, my beloved and 
venerable sister, that He who has begun this work, 
will bring it to perfection. 

Within the short space of ten years since their founda- 
tion the Sisters of Charity were established not only at 
Emmitsburg, but beyond the mother house they were "dif- 
fusing the good odor of Jesus Christ." At home and 
abroad Mother Seton was the guiding spirit of the religious 
life of the sisters. If she had been exercised by many and 
severe trials, she was found ready to accomplish God's will, 
because her thoughts were always centered on eternity. 
Eternity was continually before her eyes, ever on her lips, 
and still more in her heart. 

Eternity [she writes to a friend] Oh how near it 
often seems to me. Think of it when you are hard 


pushed. How long will he that day without a night, 
or that night without a day! May we praise, bless 
and adore forever! 

And again she writes : 

Alone on a rock this afternoon surrounded by the 
most beautiful scenery, adoring and praising Him for 
His magnificence and glory, the heavy eye could find 
no delight. The soul cried out O God ! give yourself. 
What is all the rest? A silent voice of love answered, 
/ am yours. Then, dearest Lord, keep me as I am 
while I live, for this is true content to hope for noth- 
ing, to desire nothing, to expect nothing, to fear noth- 
ing. Death! Eternity! Ah, how small are all the ob- 
jects of busy, striving, restless, blind mistaken beings, 
when at the foot of the cross these two prospects are 
viewed ! 

She looked upon Calvary as the rendezvous of all true 
Christians. Speaking to a friend of the trials God had sent 
her she says : "For that I bless Him most of all. Where 
would I now be if He had not scourged and bound me? If I 
get to His Kingdom what matter now? Faith, faith, my 
dear friend, the Captain marches on. Oh, yes, we follow, 
we follow." 

One of the chief characteristics of Mother Seton's piety 
was her love of the Cross. The time had now come when 
she would behold it for the last time, for she was about to 
climb her final Calvary. In 1818 she suffered an attack of 
illness from which she never entirely recovered, and in the 
summer of 1820 she was confined to her room for four ' 
months with a disease that baffled every effort of her physi- 
cians. But by her frequent reception of Holy Communion 
she made this period of inaction one of the greatest happi- 
ness. Christ in the Blessed Sacrament had become more 
than ever her treasure and support, the chief object of her 


longings. So great was her joy at the anticipation of Holy 
Communion that once when Father Brute entered the room 
and placed the Blessed Sacrament on the table prepared for 
It, her countenance, before pale, began to glow with anima- 
tion, and no longer able to control her emotions, she burst 
into tears and sobbed aloud, covering her face with her 
hands. Father Brute said to her: "Peace, Mother! Here 
is the Lord of Peace. Do you wish to confess?" "No, 
no; only give Him to me," she replied with a fervor that 
showed something of the great desire to be united to her 

The time had come for an eternal union, for the work 
that God had given her to do had been long finished. Her 
children no longer depended upon her efforts for their live- 
lihood and education. William, the eldest, had entered the 
navy with the rank of midshipman and was seeing service on 
the Macedonian in the southern Pacific; her other son, 
Richard, was with the Filicchis in Italy learning the com- 
mercial business, for which these Italian merchants were 
noted; whereas her daughter, Catherine, now a lovely girl 
of twenty years, had not only endeared herself to the 
sisters and pupils at St. Joseph's, but had become a favorite 
of the best society of Baltimore and Philadelphia. And 
hence looking about her, on her children and her community, 
the dying mother felt a peace altogether unknown to her 
during these last years of struggle and intense suffering. 
As the winter of 1820 advanced she withdrew more and 
more into silence and meditation seeing nothing, "save 
the blue sky and the altars." She was but forty-seven years 
old and the sisters were often inconsolable in the thought 
of losing her before the age they might naturally have hoped 
to see her attain. Perceiving their sorrow she would say to 
them: "May His Will be done, may His Holy Will be 
done 1" She had them read to her the books she loved the 
best; the lives of St. Vincent de Paul and his co-worker 


Blessed Louise de Marillac, Mother of all Sisters of Char- 
ity, wherever they may be; and passages from the score of 
works she herself had translated from the French. Often, 
all would join in her favorite hymn, "Jerusalem, My Happy 
Home," her own composition, and one that gives so great 
evidence of her deeply poetical soul as to merit for her 
considerable recognition as a literary woman even if she 
had left no other writing to posterity. 

As the Christmas of 1820 passed, it became evident that 
she would never be able to rise from her bed again. The 
New Year brought on increasing weakness. In the early 
morning of the first of January, when the sister who was 
watching by her bedside pressed her to take a prescribed 
potion, she refused by saying: "A Communion more and 
our Eternity! 11 and fasting, waited for the coming of the 
morning when she received her Lord for the last time. To- 
ward midday of the second all were summoned to the sick 
room, the busy work at the mother house having been 
stopped, for the sisters believed Death to have entered the 
sick room of their Mother. Only a few of the community 
could gain admittance, but through the open door the others 
could see the radiant face of the dying saint transfigured 
with brightness of eternity upon it. All during the time 
that Father Dubois administered the Sacrament of Extreme 
Unction Mother Seton kept her eyes toward Heaven and, 
when the priest had finished, exclaimed with the fervor of 
a soul that realized the meaning of each unction, "Oh, how 
thankful!" In the profound silence that reigned in the 
death chamber the sisters seemed to read what was passing 
in her soul at that moment. All that day she rested silent, 
happy. Toward midnight of the third she became worse 
and the household again assembled at her chamber, those 
who were unable to gain admittance kneeling in the passage 
outside of it. The blessed candles burning at her bedside 
revealed her features beautifully tranquil, the look of suf- 


fering gone forever. Her daughter, Catherine, knelt very 
near her, the only one of her children to witness the glory 
of her passing. When the prayers for the dying were fin- 
ished Mother Seton asked for her favorite prayer of 
submission : 

May the most Holy, the most Powerful and Most 
Amiable Will of God be accomplished forever. 

And finally for the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola, which 
she loved so dearly: 

Soul of Christ, sanctify me. 

Body of Christ, save me. 

Blood of Christ, inebriate me. 

Water, flowing from the side of Christ, purify me. 

Passion of Christ, strengthen me. 

O good Jesus, hear me. 

Within Thy wounds hide me. 

Permit me not to be separated from Thee. 

From the malignant enemy defend me. 

In the hour of my death call me; 

And bid me come to Thee 

That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee 

Forever and ever. Amen. 

The sisters began the prayer, but overcome with grief were 
unable to finish it. The room was filled with the sounds of 
quiet weeping. Mother Seton, alone, remained calm, and 
with an unutterable joyousness of voice finished the prayer 
herself. Then she called upon Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to 
support her to the end, and after repeating that Holy Name 
which above all others she had so loved even from her 
childhood she breathed her last, so quietly, indeed, that 
those about her could not name the exact moment of the 
passing of her souL 

A long silence followed during which the White House 
was, in truth, the chamber of the dead. The flickering 
lights of the candles revealed something of the peace that 


had come into the soul of the blessed foundress, for on her 
countenance was a look unknown to earthly pilgrims. The 
remembrance of it was to be for her daughters a heritage 
forever, a reminder of those lessons of holiness she en- 
deavored always to impress upon their understanding. It 
was to recall the Divine sanction to trials and temptations 
joyfully borne for the sake of Christ, an incentive for 
them to meet such likewise in the years that were to follow. 
It was to bring before them the peace which surrounds the 
final hours of those w r ho have lived and suffered as Chris- 
tians worthy of the title. And finally it was to remind 
them that if they so lived and bore their sufferings, death 
when it came would be in nowise terrifying. 

Mother Seton's body was laid to rest in the quiet woods 
at St. Joseph's, in company with her children Anna Maria 
and Rebecca, and her loved converts, Cecilia and Harriet. 
A cross and a rose tree w r ere placed to mark the spot of her 
sleeping, and innumerable hearts prayed God to give her 
rest and peace and everlasting happiness. 

The winter passed and soft breezes from the southland 
told that spring had come again to the valley. Once more 
the foliage grew dense upon the Mountain and the endless 
haze lay spread again upon the Blue Ridge. The days 
grew long and hot but the wistful, star-filled nights brought 
peace and rest, and coolness from the heavens. Again the 
hollyhocks colored the courtyard near the Stone House and 
the roses came to "Paradise"; a wood violet bloomed on 
the grave of Mother Seton. June had returned once more 
with all its loveliness and color, and with it this year 
brought a happy traveler to Emmitsburg. Mother Seton's 
eldest son, her beloved William, had finished his cruise in 
the southern Pacific, and all unaware of the sorrow that had 
come upon him was hastening to St. Joseph's. The letter 


he had written his mother from aboard the Macedonian, in 
sight of the Boston lighthouse, had preceded him to 

My dearest Mother, My dearest desire seems 
about to be fulfilled; happiness, like a star which gleams 
through a wild and stormy night, appears to rise be- 
fore my eyes! But, alas! the horizon does not clear, 
and my poor star trembles, as if it would be obscured 
by clouds. You can imagine with what anxiety I await 
the reception of the first lines that you will write me. 
Your last letter was dated the month of May, 1820. 
That is more than a year ago. I dare not let my 
thoughts rest on the changes a year may bring. Do 
write me soon, and tell me how you are. Embrace 
Kitty for me. My regards to my friends at the Moun- 
tain. I keep my long stories for the time when we 
shall be together; or rather, to speak truly, I feel my 
heart so full at this moment that I can say no more. 

Stopping neither in New York nor Baltimore, not even in 
the little village of Emmitsburg, he hurried on to St. 
Joseph's. He saw the house of the sisters before him, and 
the roses, too, that his mother had mentioned in her last 
letter. He left the highroad that passes the mother house 
and then he skirted the woods where the dear dead were 
sleeping. All unmindful of the loveliness of the summer 
about him, forgetful of everything but the all-satisfying 
joyousness of again seeing his mother, he turned into the 
pathway that led to the White House. But halfway to the 
dwelling he saw Father Brute approaching. The priest was 
silently weeping and in his hand he held a letter, the seal 

This affliction called for silence, for in great sorrows 
human words bring little consolation. Yet the wounds in 
William's heart required the attention of the saintly Brute, 


for they were deep and open and bleeding. Suffering su- 
preme, indeed, was this, a suffering that could be assuaged 
only by the solace of the "Angel of the Mountain. 1 ' It was 
from him that William learned of his mother's last days 
on earth and of her holy and happy death. Together they 
went to the little convent cemetery and knelt at her grave 
on which violets were already blooming. It was the hour 
of the Angelus and all the bells of Emmitsburg were sound- 
ing. Long and sweet they flung their silver music on the 
air. The college high on the mountain rang out its salu- 
tation and was answered by the convent in the valley. And 
from across the sunset woods the bells of the village joined 
in the vesper hymn to Mary. To William at the grave of 
his loved one they brought a message of peace and consola- 
tion, for they too were proclaiming that forgetfulness of 
self and love for others which had so characterized the life 
of his mother. Father Brute and William listened to the 
message, and the young man carried it away in his heart. 
The two returned to St. Joseph's only when the shadows 
began to creep over the valley, and the mountain began to 
shimmer crimson and purple against the approaching dusk. 
In the years that have intervened since the death of 
Mother Seton there has been evidence aplenty of the divine 
workmanship in the make-up of this great woman. It has 
continued to manifest itself not only in the works that she 
dared to inaugurate but especially in the lives of those thou- 
sands of Sisters of Charity who have followed in her foot- 
steps. They have spread into almost every section of the 
United States, beacon lights of sacrifice and courage in the 
vortex of American civilization. Out across the Indian 
hunting grounds to the very outposts of civilization they 
have carried their Seton message of helpfulness to others. 
When pioneer strength and determination were flinging 
westward the boundaries of a nation, they joined the cara- 
vans that crossed the plains and mountains, and boarded the 


early boats that slowly plied the waterways of the country, 
going to give the best that was in them to the moral and 
intellectual growth of the American commonwealth. 

It was less than a score of years after the death of Mother 
Seton that four of them braved the dangers of the Alle- 
ghanies and going down the Ohio entered the land of the 
Mississippi to open in St. Louis, in 1828, the first Catholic 
hospital in the United States. A hazardous undertaking 
this journey across the trackless wildernesses of the moun- 
tains and the Ohio Valley; but they had heeded the words 
of the holy Brute : 

To trust and go on, for what is fifteen hundred miles 
to God and has any establishment begun to prosper 
otherwise than by a parent destitution of means? 
Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the 
evidence of things that appear not. 

And so the sisters began in the direst poverty, a work that 
not only made them the American pioneers of Catholic hos- 
pital service, but one that has so progressed until to-day they 
conduct over sixty hospitals and sanitariums throughout the 
United States. 

When the Asiatic cholera swept the land in 1832, baf- 
fling all the resources of human skill, the sisters went out 
as nurses from the mother house at Emmitsburg, some of 
them never to return to the valley. And to-day monuments 
erected by municipal authority are standing in a number of 
American cities in memory of these women who fell mar- 
tyrs in the service of their countrymen. 

When the Civil War brought its desolation to both North 
and South, the sisters left St. Joseph's for the improvised 
war hospitals, the long marches, and the sordid scenes of 
the battlefields, ministering to the opposing armies all 
along the routes followed by the two forces in their struggle 
for supremacy. Many of the sisters gave not only their 


services but their lives and when the war was over and 
the sisters returned to their classrooms and hospitals, the 
impression they had made on the hearts of the soldiers was 
one never to he effaced; its splendor attracted the attention 
of the entire American nation. 

Then came the war with Spain and again some of the 
sisters were called upon to make the supreme sacrifice, dying 
"sword in hand," as St. Vincent would have styled it. 

During the World War five thousand daughters of St. 
Vincent were nursing the wounded and dying of French 
battlefields alone, whereas the Kmmitsburg sisters, furnish- 
ing ten of their community for service in Italy and Austria, 
gained the distinction of being the only American commu- 
nity to do overseas work. Besides this honor, the only 
American woman religious to give up her life while on duty 
overseas was one of Mother Seton's daughters, who to-day 
rests, not in Flanders Field, but in an almost forgotten 
grave on the banks of the Seine. 

And while American battlefields have seen the white cor- 
nettes of the sisters of Kmmitsburg, the foreign mission 
field, too, has felt the blessing of their presence. China and 
its neglected missions claimed the first sister of any Ameri- 
can congregation when one of Mother Seton's daughters 
left the mother house at Emmitsburg for that land where 
pagan temples overshadow the cross of Christ. That was 
toward the end of the last century; since then a score of 
American Sisters of Charity are participating in that great 
work of redemption which had been carried on by English 
and French members of the order for almost a hundred 
years. Japan, Peru, Hawaii, and Porto Rico, likewise, have 
asked for assistance; in the latter place, the sisters answered 
a call sent out without success to almost every community of 
the United States by the Redemptorist Fathers who are in 
charge of many American missions in Porto Rico. Here, 
in Mayaguez, the sisters have opened two schools for the 


children of the people, conducting them from the beginning 
according to the best American educational principles. 

An eminent Jesuit not long ago said: "The Sisters of 
Charity can be switched on to any good work in the Ameri- 
can Church and they always get there. What the sisters 
start, that they finish, the secret of their success being trust 
in God; in other words, they practice spiritual common 
sense." A great trust in God was indeed required for the 
new work the sisters were asked to assume in 1894. At 
this time the Lord of the Lepers reached out His pleading 
hands to the Valley of St. Joseph, and called the Daughters 
of Mother Seton to the heroic task of ministering to his 
loved outcasts, isolated on a neglected plantation about 
eighty miles from New Orleans on a peninsula in the Mis- 
sissippi River. Four cornettes were seen one day boarding 
a Mississippi steamer for the colony, where they are labor- 
ing to-day, the pride of the American Church and the objects 
of wonderment and veneration to all those who know about 
them. The Sisters of the National Leprosarium are in the 
immediate service of the United States Government, as are 
also those of the community to whom the Government has 
entrusted the great United States Soldier's Home Hospital 
in the National Capital, where they act as nurses to the ill 
and infirm war veterans. 

These are but mere suggestions of that full work of 
which Mother Seton laid the foundation, a work that is 
carried on with an all-encompassing scope of spirit that 
excludes no charity. A college, academies, central and 
parochial high schools, graded schools attached to parishes 
and to the community's orphanages, homes for foundlings 
and for the aged, hopistals for the sick of body, for the sick 
of mind, and for incurables, day nurseries, settlement houses, 
foreign missions, schools for the negroes and catechetical 
classes for the mountain children, all these, and the crown- 
ing glory the lepers are the objects of a versatile and 


resourceful charity, that had its beginning in the heart of 
Elizabeth Seton. 

Scarcely had the mortal remains of Mother Seton been 
consigned to the grave in 1821, when her confessor, the 
saintly Father Brute, enjoined the sisters at St. Joseph's to 
gather together and preserve in an especially prepared place 
the effects of their holy foundress. u Preserve all carefully 
and gather up the fragments lest any be lost, for some day 
how precious they will be. 1 ' And in his memoirs he wrote, 
under date of July 5, 1821 : 

I will say as the result of my long and intimate 
acquaintance with her, that I believe her to have been 
one of those truly chosen souls (ames d* elite) who, if 
placed in circumstances similar to those of Saint The- 
resa, or Saint Frances de Chantal, w T ould be equally re- 
markable in the scale of sanctity. For it seems to me 
impossible there could be a greater elevation, purity, 
and love for God, for heaven, and for supernatural 
and eternal things than were to be found in her. 

In his great wisdom Father Brute was the first to realize 
that Mother Seton in stamping out self to give place to 
God was to live for all times and in a particular manner in 
the minds and hearts of countless millions. In the years 
that have followed the added glory of her name and mem- 
ory has borne out in a truly marvelous manner the truth of 
his predictions. In 1907 the first sessions of the ecclesiasti- 
cal court created for the purpose of investigating into the 
heroic holiness of her life were held at the suggestion of 
His Eminence, the late Cardinal Gibbons. Since then cer- 
tain definite steps have been taken toward the canonization 
of Mother Seton, whom American Catholics hope to see 
raised one day to the honors of the Altar. 

In considering the life of Mother Seton it is not irrele- 
vant to remark that she has served as the model and in- 


spiration of other American communities for women, who 
to-day are doing a labor of love that furnishes an added 
luster to the memory of this remarkable woman. Two of 
the communities the Sisters of Charity of New York and 
the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati had as their first 
superioresses women who received their early religious 
training in St. Joseph's Valley; three other communities 
the Sisters of Charity of New Jersey, the Sisters of Char- 
ity of Halifax, and the Sisters of Charity of Greensburg 
owe their inception to sisters who were members either of 
the New York or Cincinnati institutes. These five commu- 
nities are known as the "Black Cap" Sisters of Charity, for 
they have adopted a habit something like that worn at St. 
Joseph's, during the lifetime of Mother Seton. They have 
substantially the rule of St. Vincent de Paul and in tracing 
their origin indirectly to the Emmitsburg foundation honor 
it immeasurably because of what they are doing for God 
and society in the American Republic. 

But when one speaks of Mother Seton to-day, one thinks 
immediately of Emmitsburg, and one cannot think of 
Emmitsburg unless there comes a picture of this valley of 
loveliness, down among the hills of Maryland, with its 
great mother house and novitiate, and its white-winged Sis- 
ters of Charity. Here it is to this New World's Assisi 
that scores of young women come each year to prepare 
themselves for the work that lies before them as Daugh- 
ters of Mother Seton, and to receive that universal badge 
of charity and devotedness, the white cornette of St. 
Vincent's fashioning, that same unique religious headdress 
which has been immortalized by the great Lavedan of the 
French Academy in the following passage : * 

There is no place it has not visited. It has made 
more than once the tour of the world. Its course is 

1 Lavedan: op. V V New York, 1929, p. 216 et stq. 


hounded only by the limits of the earth, it has seen all 
climes, it has become international and yet remained 
French. It has plunged into the depths of suffering 
and has achieved the heights of emotion, of pity, ot 
sacrifice, of art, of poetry. Whether in the person of a 
soft-eyed Sister Rosalie or of some nameless girl 
known to God alone, it has been engraved, painted, 
sculptured, honored, sung. It is to be found in the 
Annals of the Faith, it is painted on the walls of 
churches, and immortalized in the pageantry of stained 

Botticelli and Fra Angelico are the poorer for not 
having known it, but at least the good Willette has 
discovered it and cornettes are scattered like butter- 
flies in the Parce Domine of the Butte. There is a 
heroic quality about the cornette that brings it to the 
front in great historical moments, in those of terror 
as well as those of glory. In the advent of war, pesti- 
lence, revolution, those storms from which the rest of 
us think only of escaping crouching or rushing for 
cover it sets forth, spreading out its wings as though 
like a bird it would hover over the stretcher of some 
wounded one to whose service it comes ; not merely the 
dove of the ark, but of the trench, of the barricade. It 
places a screen of white before the agony of the sol- 
dier and the beggar, of the crushed aviator breathing 
his last and offers him a retreat. One sees its flutter in 
railway stations, in third-class apartments, and at the 
great seaports, upon boats under steam for China or 
for Africa. When at the behest of the "Mother Su- 
perior" it remains in town, it makes gayer the schools, 
the workshops, the hospitals; it is the flower of the 
day-nurseries; it plays hide-and-seek with the orphans. 

And constantly the miracle renews itself. In all its 
movements, in all its encounters the cornette keeps in- 
tact its perfection of form, its immaculate whiteness. 
All impurities fall away from it. No one has ever 
seen on any one of these coifs the slightest spot 


except on the occasions of wounds and death, when its 
whiteness is stained with the blood of others, or of her 
who wears it. It follows with the noise of fluttering 
leaves the candles and banners of a religious procession,, 
or it flaps with excitement as it follows the games of 
children; it knows street cries and the movement of 
crowds; everywhere it is respected, sacred and 

Among the thousands of coifs of all kinds to be 
found on the heads of women in religion, upon earth 
as well as in heaven, it has easily the first place. Mag- 
nificat! One has but to say "a cornette," and every one 
has understood. It is she ! It can be no one else. It 
is the good Sister, the Sister of Saint Vincent de Paul. 

In America, too, the cornettes have taken flight and spread 
everywhere. Go up and down the Atlantic seaboard, north 
to where the pines of Maine greenwall the cold Atlantic, 
or else to where the flowers of Florida and the negro cabins 
of Carolina tell you that you are in the southland, turn your 
eyes westward over the Alleghanies and the valley of the 
Ohio down into the fertile lands of the Mississippi, or 
high again across the Rockies to the shores of California 
in all these places you will find detachments of this world- 
wide army of trained charity workers whose first days of 
consecration were spent in the Valley of Emmitsburg, women 
who are none the less faithful to the memory of Mother 
Seton because they associate with her the great St. Vincent, 
but who earnestly believe that in carrying the torch of the 
master they are but reflecting glory on the work of the dis- 
ciple. And because they have placed this work of Mother 
Seton under the honorable banner of the humble Gascon 
priest of the seventeenth century they know that the cause 
of charity and education in America shall never fail ; that it 
will shine as the stars for all eternity. 



IT is a significant fact that of Mother Mary Rhodes a 
short note written to her brother just before her death is 
the only relic of her whose faith and heroism made possible 
the foundation of Loretto. She lived, she labored, and she 
died. What a strange epitaph for so great a woman! To 
the world such an inscription would suggest that her life was 
fruitless and a failure. But in reality it was a life most 
fruitful and blessed. While furthering God's work she 
contrived like another John the Baptist her own decrease. 
She considered herself only an instrument raised up by 
Divine Providence to assist in the beginning of a project 
which was to answ r er a crying need of the times. In her 
humility she attributed all to God and counted herself as a 
useless servant, always disclaiming any credit of the founda- 
tion of her sisterhood. This spirit of self-effacement kept 
from the annals of early Loretto days much information 
regarding the beginnings of the community and its foun- 
dress. And then the fire that left the sisters homeless 
shortly after the death of Mother Rhodes took away com- 
pletely all that they had endeavored to collect about the 
first days of Loretto. 

But while the life story of Mother Rhodes will never be 
found in the documents of the early days, it is known from 
the lives of that little group of women who with her planted 
the seed of Loretto by the waters of Hardin's Creek; from 
the lives of those who in succeeding years have nurtured it 
and watched it grow and spread beyond the hills of Ken- 
tucky, across the plains of the Mississippi, and still farther 



westward past the towering Rockies, to where the Sierras 
meet the sea. The history of the Lorettines, then, is the 
truest biography of Mother Rhodes. Her work has pros- 
pered; her life was not a failure. And although no relic, 
other than the simple note to her brother, has been given 
her daughters to reverence, not even a portrait revealing 
her personal appearance has been bequeathed them to cher- 
ish, yet she is a living reality to the women who follow 
much in the same path she cleared for them in the wilder- 
ness of early Kentucky. 

In the foundation of the Loretto sisterhood there is an- 
other figure that can never be disassociated from that of 
Mary Rhodes, for it stands out gloriously triumphant in the 
annals of religion and education in Kentucky. This is the 
Reverend Charles Nerinckx, zealous, indomitable and 
saintly missionary, one of America's greatest Apostles. 
Charles Nerinckx was born on October 2, 1761, at Herf- 
felingen, in Brabant, Belgium, being the eldest of fourteen 
children. His father was Sebastian Nerinckx, a physician, 
and his mother Petronilla Langendries. In 1762, Doctor 
Nerinckx and his family moved to Ninove, in East Flan- 
ders, where Charles began his primary studies at the age of 
six years. At twelve he entered the College of Enghien, 
and in 1774 passed on to Gheel, later completing his philo- 
sophical course at Louvain. His studies in theology were 
made at the Mechlin Seminary, where he was ordained 
priest, November 4, 1785. 

The superiors of Father Nerinckx felt that he was one 
to whom they might entrust duties of no little responsibility. 
He was appointed vicar of the Metropolitan parish of St. 
Rumold where he distinguished himself for his priestly zeal, 
well-balanced character, and growth in piety and knowledge. 
The Cardinal-Archbishop of Mechlin promoted him to the 
pastorate of the important Church of Everfaerg-Meerbeke, 
although at the time Father Nerinckx was only thirty-one 


years of age. According to a letter written in 1 803 by the 
Princess (iallit/in to Bishop Carroll, of Baltimore, Father 
Nerinckx's labors in this parish were such as to proclaim 

truly the father of every one of his parishioners . . . 
that his flock had such a veneration for his person that 
he controlled, so to say, every household, and that he 
was loved and cherished especially by the children. 1 

These were encomiums which were later repeated of him by 
Bishop Spalding with regard to his ministrations in 

These happy conditions, however, were disturbed by the 
French Revolution. Father Nerinckx refused to take the 
oath demanded by the government, for in so doing he felt 
that he would be violating his conscience. His arrest was 
ordered, but through the loyalty of his people he was able 
to make his escape disguised as a peasant. He found a 
refuge in the Hospital of St. Blaise, Dendermonde, in the 
diocese of Ghent, where dwelt his aunt, Sister Constantia 
Langendries, whose community and hospital had been 
spared because of the services the sisters were rendering the 
government. For six years he remained in hiding, his con- 
tinued safety depending solely on his caution. The days 
were spent in the attic of the hospital, whereas the nights 
found him among the sick and dying who had been deprived 
of the ministrations of religion. 

When conditions became more settled Father Nerinckx 
could have returned to his pastorate of Everberg-Meerbeke, 
but his soul had undergone a great change. He longed for 
a free scope to carry on his priestly labors, a place where 
God's work would not meet the interference of His ene- 

*Archwes of the Sisters of Loretto, Loretto Mother House, Nerinx, 


mics. The New World with its souls crying out for salva- 
tion beckoned him with an insistence that admitted of no 
refusal. On September 20, 1803, while concealed in his 
father's house, he wrote to Bishop Carroll offering himself 
for the American missions. The reply contained assur- 
ances of welcome and Father Nerinckx began preparations 
for his journey. On July 2, 1804, he bade farewell to 
his aunt, then superioress of the hospital. At Amsterdam 
he was detained for some time, but this disappointment 
received compensations, one of which was a visit from the 
Princess Gallitzin, who came a twelve days' journey to see 
him and to give him messages of maternal affection for her 
reverend son, Father Demetrius Gallitzin, then laboring as 
the apostle of western Pennsylvania. Father Nerinckx ar- 
rived in Baltimore, November 14, 1804, and after a few 
months spent at Georgetown College, he was sent by Bishop 
Carroll to the missions of Kentucky. 

Kentucky had been settled only nineteen years before by 
Catholic colonists from Maryland. The state was a large 
one, and the Catholics numerous, but only one priest was to 
be found in the vast territory. This was the Reverend 
Stephen Theodore Badin. The settlers were calling for the 
word of God to be preached to them, for the sacraments 
to be given to them, for the Lord's own Self to be taber- 
nacled amongst them. Suffer what physical privations they 
must they could not reconcile themselves to the absence of 
the priest and the consolations of religion. They longed 
for another priest to assist Father Badin, for then they 
knew the opportunities for practicing their religion would 
be increased. They were pioneers of the Faith in the West, 
pioneers whose lives were those of real heroes. No better 
picture can be given of them than in quoting from the beau- 
tifully written history of the Sisters of Loretto: " 

a Minogue: Loretto, Annals of Century, New York, 1912. p. 6 // seq. 


No child of Kentucky but is familiar with the history 
of the days of the pioneers. We know of the lordly 
trees felled for the construction of the cabin, the chim- 
ney built of mud and wattles, the earthen floor, and 
the loopholes for its defense against the wild beast and 
the Indian; of the stockades; of the perilous labors in 
the field, where the musket was carried along with the 
hoe; of the rude fare so hardly gained; of the rough 
apparel secured by such toil: all this and more we have 
been taught of the struggle made by those heroic men 
and women to plant civilization on the Western 
frontier. But only outlines has the most industrious 
historian given us of that period of travail, out of 
which a great and glorious Commonwealth was born. 
Some figures stand out splendidly on the canvas of that 
time; some incidents are revealed that shall command 
love and veneration while valorous deeds and acts of 
honor shall appeal to the souls of men. But who shall 
ever know of the hidden heroes ? Who shall unfold from 
the silence of the past the lost stories of their lives? 
Who shall tell us of the toil of the men, the suffering 
of the women, the repression of pathetic childhood, 
experienced by the dwellers of those first rude habita- 
tions of Kentucky, whether amid her mountain fast- 
ness, the ample reaches of her Bluegrass Belt, or the 
picturesque hills and long, sequestered valleys of her 
Maryland District ! Sacred for us should be the spot 
that held one of those poor cabins, and more beautiful 
in our eyes than the shafts of marble that mark 
the last resting-place of our latest born to fame, 
should be some poor slab, crumbling to decay, that 
points to us where one of those unknown heroes 

These were Father Nerinckx's charges; this was the scene 
of his spiritual labors. 

When Father Nerinckx left Georgetown he was in the 


company of some Trappist monks who had decided to locate 
in Kentucky, but the Trappists traveled too leisurely for the 
missionary, and he parted company with them. Alone he 
went down the valley of the Ohio, arriving at St. Stephen's, 
Marion County, July, 1805, where Father Badin welcomed 
him with outstretched arms and gave him the greetings of a 
brother missionary of the Cross. Within two months after 
his arrival in Kentucky, he began the formation of a teach- 
ing order of women. In September of 1805, when he took 
charge of Holy Mary's on the Rolling Fork, he wrote from 
the residence of Father Badin that twenty young women 
were ready to follow him next spring to his new residence, 
thirteen miles distant, that his intention was to give them 
a house near the church, if the Bishop approved, and that 
they would be able to support themselves by spinning, weav- 
ing, and sewing; finally that "the Lovers of Mary, as I in- 
tend to call them, would not be bound by solemn vows, and 
some of them would be intrusted with the instruction of poor 
children and slaves." This project failed, however, through 
the apathy of those whom the movement was intended to 
benefit. But the failure spread no icy chill upon the aspira- 
tions of Father Nerinckx. Talking the matter over with 
Father Badin, he assured the latter that the work must ul- 
timately succeed. In fact, so convinced was Father Badin 
that he set to work to procure the necessary means to make 
such an establishment, and urged Father Nerinckx to 
assume its spiritual direction. 

Writing to Bishop Carroll under date of March zi, 1807, 
Father Nerinckx says: 

Father Badin seems to approve very much of the in- 
stitution about which I wrote to your Lordship some 
time ago. . . . The undertaking is a difficult one, and 
should not be entrusted to my littleness ; but I cannot 
deny its utility. . . . There is every reason to be 


anxious about a holy director to he put at the head of 
such an undertaking. "' 

Writing also to Belgium, about this time, Father 
Nerinckx again refers to this urge of Vicar-Cieneral Badin, 
and to his own fear of assuming direction, adding: 

By request of the Vicar General I have begun the 
framing of some rules of life for the members, and I 
might practice some of them myself with profit. I call 
the society "The Friends of Mary." After their own 
sanctification the principal object will be to provide 
teachers for our Catholic schools, and a third object 
will be to take care of the sick, irrespective of religious 

As Kentucky was under the jurisdiction of Baltimore it 
was necessary for Father Badin to lay the plans of the pro- 
posed sisterhood before Bishop John Carroll. He left for 
Baltimore in August, 1807, and great was his joy when the 
Bishop approved of the undertaking. Immediately after 
Father Badin's return, early in 1808, the building of the 
convent was begun on a tract of one hundred acres, donated 
for the purpose by a certain Mr. Dent. It was to be a 
school for girls and another house was to be erected later 
for the shelter of orphans. Under date of February 23, 
1808, Father Nerinckx writes to his parents in Europe that 

convent is seventy feet long, and will have a chapel 
about as long and wide as the house, surmounted with 
a turret. Some outbuildings will be added. It is situ- 
ated one mile from Father Badin's house. Six or seven 
of our young ladies have applied to be the first reli- 
gious, but it seems there are many more who are 
anxiously watching how the undertaking will succeed, 

* Archives of the Sisters of Loretto, Loretto Mother House, Nerinx, Ken- 

* Ibid. 


ami who will join the community as soon as it is an 
accomplished fact. May God Hess what has been 
begun for I lis honor and glory; His providence is our 
only reliance.' 

The convent was completed and the little company of 
sisters were all but ready to take possession of it, when it 
was reduced to ashes, shortly after Pentecost in the year 
1808. This was the beginning of that trail of fire which 
seemed to pursue Father Nerinckx and his Lorettines 
wherever they built their cabins of logs. Father Badin, 
who had exhausted all his resources in the buildings, was 
now without hope of ever accomplishing anything in that 
way, and turned again to his missions. 

To Father Nerinckx there came at this time an added 
anguish of soul, that of his proposed appointment as Ad- 
ministrator-Apostolic over the Church at New Orleans. 
This prevented any dwelling of his mind upon his disap- 
pointed hopes regarding the sorely needed sisterhood. But 
the pleadings of the humble missionary as to his unfitness 
for the appointment to New Orleans were heeded and the 
cross was lifted. He was permitted to remain in his lowly 
position on the missions in Kentucky and to continue his 
labors among the early colonists. Hope was born again 
in his soul, because the love of his people was so all 

And then there began the unfolding of the Divine plan. 
The birthday of Loretto was approaching, for Mary 
Rhodes, living until then in Maryland, came to Kentucky 
to make that place her home. She was born in Maryland 
and had received a convent education; just where, there is 
no record. Tradition has it that she was a pupil of the 
sainted Mother Lalor, foundress of the Georgetown Nuns 
of the Visitation. Her brother, Bennet, and a sister, Nancy, 

r " Ibid. 


hud emigrated to Kentucky with the Maryland colonists, the 
former, who was married, living with his family on Har- 
din's Creek, whereas his sister had taken up her home with 
their cousin, James Dent. Returning to Kentucky after a 
visit to the old home in Maryland, James Dent was accom- 
panied by his sister, Mary, who finally went to live with her 
brother on Hardin's Creek. Here she saw her brother's 
children growing up without schooling of any kind and, 
what was even worse, with but little religious instruction. 
There was no hesitation on her part, no indecision. She 
taught them, and then she reached out to the children of the 
neighborhood and taught them likewise. With the blessing 
of Father Nerinckx, she opened her first school in a log 
cabin, which had no floor, and whose roof let in the rain 
and snow upon the children and the teacher. But the joy 
of one who was doing God's work made the little cabin 
school a veritable paradise. 

The number of the children increased to such an extent 
that Father Nerinckx feared for the health of the young 
teacher. He offered her as an assistant, Christina Stuart, 
a young woman who, like Mary Rhodes, was desirous of 
employing herself in some worth-while project. There was 
sweet accord in the little school on Hardin's Creek. Soon 
the teachers perceived in each other the call to a life of per- 
fection and, all unconsciously though it may have been, 
they approached the hour of sacrifice set aside for them 
from all eternity. -Adjoining the school was another cabin, 
and here they moved their few earthly belongings, a folly 
to the worldly-wise, but what wisdom was it to those who 
had learned to know God ! Scarcely had they begun their 
new undertaking when they welcomed Nancy Havern, the 
third on the long list of Lorettines. They offered them- 
selves, as religious, to Father Nerinckx, and the priest in 
turn offered them to God for His Church in Kentucky. 

In his journal Father Nerinckx briefly tells the beginning 


of what later developed into this purely American Order, 
the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross: 

In the year 1812 Miss Mary Rhodes of the State 
of Maryland, being with her brother, B. Rhodes of 
Washington County, Kentucky, on Hardin's Creek, 
wished to open a school for the instruction of her own 
nieces, and any other girls whose parents might desire 
to take advantage of the opportunity of giving them 
a Christian training. She spoke to the priest, Rev. 
Charles Nerinckx, w r ho at that time had charge of St. 
Charles' congregation, and he readily granted her re- 
quest. He saw in this the hope of shielding the girls 
from the dangers subversive of morals, so prevalent 
in schools w T here boys and girls are taught promiscu- 
ously and with no rules of separation. 

The little school was started in a poor neglected 
cabin and it met with success. The number of children 
increased, and proper attention to the pupils called for 
the care of other teachers. Soon Miss Christina Stuart 
offered her services, and a little later a third teacher 

The sight of three young women joined in the same 
work revived the old idea of a convent, and it was 
thoroughly talked over. The project was laid before 
the Right Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget, and he will- 
ingly consented to the plan. Miss Nancy Rhodes, who 
was afterwards the first superior, bought the small 
tract on which Loretto is built for $75, and gave her 
negro, who was sold for $450. A subscription of some 
hundreds of dollars was made up and the congregation 
was called upon to assist in putting up a more con- 
venient house. In the beginning of July, 1812, the first 
log was cut for the new convent. 

Great difficulties, hardships and labors were met at 
every step, but such is the lot of every pious undertak- 
ing. The community increased, the houses grew in 
number, and the schools continued, yet thev had noth- 


ing to depend on but the sole providence of d'od and 
the gracious protection of the Blessed Sorrowful 
Mother Mary. The revenues from the school were 
very low, and many could pay nothing as some were 
poor, and some were orphans, and the work of the sis- 
ters brought in but little, so Providence and the 
Blessed Virgin were the principal benefactors of this 
great undertaking/ 

The foregoing brief account is supplemented with the 
following excerpt from the 4I Rules of the Society and 
School of Loretto, Kentucky," printed in London in 1820, 
which give precise data as to place and time of the 
foundation : 

A small spot of land, of about 50 acres unmeasured, 
indifferent for natural conveniences, bought by Sister 
Anna Rhodes for $75 for the Society, about the Chapel 
of St. Charles, on Hardin's creek, County of Washing- 
ton, Kentucky, United States of America, called Little 
Loretto, was begun the 25th of April, i8i2. 7 

These cultured women, unconsciously laying the corner- 
stone of the Loretto foundation, experienced true enjoy- 
ment in one another's society and in the work which Divine 
Providence had so unexpectedly opened up for them. In 
God's name they were gathered together and the Holy 
Spirit found their souls generously responsive to His whis- 
perings. The desire that they might become nuns fired the 
heart of each; consequently they asked Father Nerinckx to 
allow them to attempt the practice of the conventual life. 
Father Nerinckx acquainted the Bishop with their desire; 
and Bishop Flaget, who had been appointed Bishop of 
Bardstown, in giving hearty approval, asked Father 

* Hewlett: Life of Rev. Charles Kerinckx. Techny, Illinois, 1915, p. 24.6 
et. seq. 

7 Archives of the Sisters of Loretto, Loretto Mother House, Nerinx, Ken- 


Nerinckx to take upon himself the direction of the little 
community and to form it to the religious life. Warmed 
by the sun of the Bishop's authori/.ation and cultivated by 
the skilled hand of Father Nerinckx, the mustard seed of 
Mary Rhodes' planting began to sprout and send its roots 
into the earth. Father Nerinckx fittingly appointed Mary 
Rhodes the directress of the little company, but he would 
appoint no regular Superior, he said, until such time as they 
might number five or six, when they could have a regular 

The first to signify her desire to follow the example of 
the happy trio was Miss Nancy Rhodes, the sister of the 
prime mover in the new enterprise. A Miss Ellen Morgan, 
esteemed acquaintance and friend of the other women, was 
teaching a small number of children in her mother's house, 
near Holy Mary's, and she, too, would join them as soon 
as her school would close. A sixth was Miss Sarah Havern, 
a sister of Nancy Havern, of the original three. 

Father Nerinckx announced to the congregation at St. 
Charles one day that he was about to establish formally the 
new society of Loretto. The date fixed was April 25, 1812, 
and on that day before the altar in the little log church, 
the three young women knelt offering themselves in immola- 
tion to the missionary who alone had labored so long in the 
wilderness. This action of theirs, purely voluntary as it 
was, stamped them forever as among America's greatest 
women, great with the greatness which is measured only by 

On June 29, Father Nerinckx vested and veiled the first 
Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. Those who 
were received were Mary Rhodes, Christina Stuart, Nancy 
Havern, Nancy Rhodes and Sarah Havern. The coveted 
veil was later given to Ellen Morgan on the twelfth of 
August following. On June 29, 1812, the sisters returned 
from St. Charles' Church to their log cabin convent to elect 


a Superior. Their deliberations were quickly concluded. 
They elected Nancy Rhodes, she who in religion was known 
as Sister Ann, to be "Dear Mother," as their rule enjoined 
that she should be called. "You have chosen the youngest 
among you/ 1 remarked Father Nerinckx, The reply he re- 
ceived came from the lips of the foundress herself, Mother 
Mary: "If she is the youngest she is also most virtuous." K 
Humble, unassuming, selfless Mary Rhodes! To pledge 
herself to obey the youngest and the frailest in her little 
company of Lorettines. Such glorious self-effacement 
speaks of the lowliness of Bethlehem, of the sacrifice of 
Calvary ! 

But the wisdom of this choice was never questioned dur- 
ing the brief space of Mother Ann's superiorship. The 
beginnings were replete with suffering, privation, sickness 
and many trials, yet they w r ere all borne with a heroism that 
was inspirational. Their trust in Divine Providence and 
the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus merited for them the right 
to their cherished title of Friends of Mary at the Foot of 
the Cross. 

At this period of the Society's formation there occurred 
that which drew forth from the religious an expression of 
American spirit and decided for all time the destiny of the 
young community. Father Nermckx's humility made him 
doubt his ability to guide the infant community and he pro- 
posed that the sisters invite from Europe, for this purpose, 
nuns long schooled in the spiritual life. The sisters remon- 
strated with their father and declared that they desired no 
other guide than himself. Father Nerinckx did not press 
the matter upon them, but he could not feel at ease until he 
had laid the affair before the Bishop. Bishop Flaget agreed 
with the sisters, and the Society has continued, as the Bishop 
decided it should begin, without affiliation or connection 
with any other. 

8 Minogue: Ibid., New York, 1912, p. 33. 


Their rule was drawn up for, and presented to them by, 
Father Nerinckx. It had all the marks of a religious rule 
and constitutions. 

From the beginning the sisters were exhorted to place 
unlimited confidence in Divine Providence. Upon this solid 
foundation was their every work to be begun and carried to 
completion. Of this they were unceasingly reminded; for 
ever on the lips of Father Nerinckx and Mother Rhodes 
was the exhortation and assurance, u Do not forsake 
Providence, and He will never forsake you/ 1 There 
was read to them daily, from the altar, their "Morning 
Manna, 1 ' 

O Dear Sisters and Scholars! 

Love your Jesus, dying with love for you on the 
Cross! Love Mary, your loving Mother, sorrowing 
at the foot of the Cross! Love one another, have 
only one heart, one soul, one mind! Love the Insti- 
tute, love the Rules, love Jesus' darling humility! 

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was one of the 
many rich heritages of the Society. In union with the 
Agonizing Heart, the sisters prayed very solemnly every day 
at three o'clock for those who were dying. On Thursday 
night, adoration of the Sacred Heart in the Blessed Sacra- 
ment was held in relays of one hour for all from night until 
morning prayers of Friday. The Feast of the Seven Sor- 
rows in Passion Week was chosen as the patronal feast, to 
be celebrated with Solemn High Mass and all-day exposi- 
tion of the Blessed Sacrament. Weekly Communion was 
the rule. Communion was to be received, also, on certain 
other "Feasts of the Society," which were specified as being, 
besides the general feasts throughout the year, the Feasts 
of the Sacred Heart and of the Holy Name of Jesus, the 
Feasts of the Immaculate Conception, Nativity, Annuncia- 
tion, Assumption, Presentation, Visitation, Purification, and 


Holy Name of Mary; of St. Mary Magdalen, St. John 
the Kvangelist, ami St. Dismas. 

The sick were to he tenderly cared for, ami the dead 
buried in the religious habit, without coffin, and the I)c 
profuHtih was to be recited daily for the deceased one 
until the next death. At their regular visits to the grave- 
yard, the sisters were to open with their own hands and to 
keep open the grave for the next whom the Lord would 

Charity, love and concord were specially inculcated, and 
cheerful obedience as to (Jod Himself, an angelic chastity 
without the least blemish, in imitation of the Queen of 
Angels, a poverty disengaged from the least affection to 
ownership in any kind of property, a charity of union and 
peace with everybody, a strict silence to converse with Jesus 
and Mary under the Cross, a great desire to see religion and 
morals improve through the care and instruction of young 
girls, and especially of poor orphans. 

The Sisters of the Loretto Society, being by vow 
and necessity obliged to all kinds of labor for their 
own support and that of the orphans, must take it for 
a certain principle, that next to spiritual duties their 
first, their most important, and their most solid devo- 
tion is their particular charge of office, however mean 
and inconsiderable it may be in itself. All particular 
devotions that interfere with this are illusions. Learn, 
then, to consider it as the employ God has appointed 
for your sanctification as the true way in which He 
will be honored and served by you as the thing to 
which He has annexed your perfection, your quiet and 
your salvation. Hence it follows that, although some 
things are of a more sublime nature than others, yet 
as all our merit, as we have seen above, and all per- 
fection consists more in doing the will of God than 
in the things themselves, you shall merit more in per- 
forming any external and corporal work according to 


His will as declared h\ obedience, than in converting 
souls or praying according to your own will. Thus 
Christ our Lord Himself preferred for many years 
obeying His blessed Mother and Saint Joseph in sweep- 
ing the house and other external works of Nazareth, to 
converting souls and publishing the glory of His Eter- 
nal Father by preaching and miracles. Your rules, 
then, and their spirit ought to be your constant medi- 
tation, the exactness of this performance your only 
ambition, the love of God your main intention, and 
may the reward be your eternal salvation! 

When the Society was but in its third year, its rules, which 
had been signed by Bishop Flaget, were taken to the Holy 
See by Father Nerinckx, September, 1815. The Sacred 
Congregation, well pleased with the new Institute, on April 
i, 1816, took the little Society under its "special protec- 
tion" and besto\ved upon it marked favors and privileges 
the first American religious congregation to be thus 

The new Institute had been well guided through the trials 
and hardships of its beginning and had been placed upon a 
solid foundation by Dear Mother, Ann Rhodes. She had 
improved their humble home, putting it in a fit condition 
to receive those who had already made known their desire 
to enter the school as boarders. Lofts were arranged in 
, their cabins where the sisters could sleep, and the beds for 
the boarders were laid on the floor of their living rooms at 
night, and removed to the "high shelf in the morning. One 
room was kitchen and refectory combined; the table was 
made of boards nailed on a stump that had been left stand- 
ing in the middle of the cabin, and probably used for a 
like purpose by the former tenants. A work table was 
made from the half of a log with the split side upward, and 
supported by four legs set into the lower side with an auger. 

Hardly had the place been put in readiness when the 


boarders came, some of whom were orphans; yet no one 
was turned away as long as there was room. No feeling 
that hardship was their lot found place in the minds of these 
children, daughters, some of them of Maryland's best fam- 
ilies, and who afterward took their places in the first ranks 
of Kentucky society. Not only were they contented, but 
they were happy beyond the power of realization. This 
happiness and contentment in the school had companionship 
in the spirit of joy that animated the little community and 
filled the heart of Father Nerinckx. Delightful evidence 
of the interest the priest took in the proper training of the 
children is treasured in the archives of the mother house, 
in remaining fragments of reports which he required of 
their conduct during his absence. 

The school, meantime, was growing beyond all expecta- 
tions, and the erection of new buildings became a necessity. 
Father Nerinckx called upon St. Charles' congregation for 
assistance. His appeal met with a generous response from 
the neighboring people, and to the sum thus pledged Father 
Nerinckx added the proceeds of his own sacrifice of a negro 
slave, whom he sold into the service of another master. 
A difficulty lay in the fact that the settlers, though the best 
intentioned, could provide but little money. Gifts of corn, 
wheat, and pork were all they were able to make. But 
these givers, humble though their gifts were, head a long 
list of American benefactors who, together with those of 
Europe and especially of Belgium, are many times a day 
remembered in the prayers and suffrages of the Society, a 
sacred duty religiously fulfilled even at the present time. 

The early members of the Society have handed down the 
following details regarding the new buildings the "mis- 
sion compound." The first log was cut on that memorable 
day of first clothing, June 29, 1812, and notwithstanding 
the greatest difficulties and hardships, the work progressed 
satisfactorily. A description of the first conventual build- 


ings at Loretto is given in the Life of Father Nerinckx by 
the Right Reverend Camillas P. Maes: 

The trees around the two little cabins were felled 
and hewed for house-logs, thus at the same time clear- 
ing the ground on which the two rows of buildings were 
to be erected, and having between them an extensive 
square yard. The sisters themselves subsequently 
cleared this yard of stumps by chopping them away 
and burning them down into the ground. Father 
Nerinckx made the plan of the buildings and staked 
out the place where each one was to be erected. Nor 
did he spare his strength. Many a log which the united 
efforts of three men could not move was lifted by his 
powerful arms and thrown out of the way. He labored 
with his own hands, and put his shoulder to the tim- 
bers when they were raised up. The foundation tim- 
bers, or sills, having been placed in position, stone 
hauled from Hardin's Creek was built up under them 
as support or underpinning, and afterward the crevices 
were filled in with mud and straw. Through reverence 
for the One who was to dwell therein the logs intended 
for the walls of the chapel and house connected with 
it were hewed. The different buildings were erected 
at a small distance from each other, forming two rows 
of houses on two opposite sides of the square yard. 
The first house to the right of the entrance of the 
yard was the school, and the one opposite in the left- 
hand row of houses was Father Nerinckx' dwelling. 
Like the school, the space between the rooms formed 
a little entry protected by weatherboarding. He built 
most of his own dwelling-house by himself, and the en- 
tire work done on it by others only cost him six dollars 
and fifty cents! 

His kitchen, the second building in the left-hand 
row, being smaller, was soon finished, and his old cook, 
who was living in the neighborhood, came to take pos- 
session of it, carrying the priest's meals to St. Charles' 


sacristy, where he was still living. The poor woman 
also made herself very useful to the Sisters, carrying 
their messages, ami doing their erraiuis to tlie neigh- 
bors when necessary. Whenever home. Father 
Nerinckx came o\er arui assisted at the building, lift- 
ing and raising logs, preparing mortar ami plastering 
the walls in the very primitive fashion of the day, vi/., 
filling up the empty spaces between the logs with hand- 
fills of clay mortar, which displayed for years after- 
ward the imprint of his fingers. Having finished his 
own house, he left his sacristy residence at St. Charles' 
and moved to Loretto. One room of his house served 
him for sitting-room, study, bedroom and refectory, 
the other one being reserved for the accommodation 
of the bishop or of any priests who might visit 
him. . . . 

The building next to the school on the right-hand 
side of the entrance to the grounds was the church and 
convent. It was two stories high, and consisted of two 
square cabins with upper rooms; the space between the 
cabins was weatherboarded in, and thus formed a 
rather neat looking chapel. When finished it was 
blessed and received the name of Little Loretto, in 
honor of Our Lady of Loretto, in Italy, for whom 
Father Nerinckx had a most tender devotion. The 
two rooms at the sides of the chapel were intended for 
the use of the community, but they were not finished 
till about two years later. 

The schoolhouse was soon occupied by the boarders 
and day-scholars. A similar double cabin next to the 
convent was used for kitchen and refectory, and the 
church not being completed at the time, the same room 
was also used for dormitory, and the second one fitted 
up as an oratory. The altar and statue of the Blessed 
Virgin were transferred to it, and Mass was said in it 
by the Director whenever home from missionary duty. 
Thither also sisters and children repaired for their 
daily devotions* The building fronting this one in the 


left-hand row, and like it in all respects, was reserved 
for a workroom, and was used, as necessity required, 
for guests' room and for intirmury. 

Father Nerinckx now enclosed the buildings and 
yard with a rail fence, thus dividing them from the 
garden that extended to the summit of the hill, the 
opposite portion of which stretched to the brink of 
the creek, and its declivity was utilized as an orchard, 
which the holy priest set out with his own hands. The 
large square yard was leveled down and sowed in blue 
grass, thus giving a neat and pleasant appearance to 
the whole. Finally, at the other side of the church he 
paled in a small plot of ground, which was to serve as 
a graveyard for the Sisters, and in the middle of it he 
planted a large cross surrounded by an evergreen arbor 
with shrubs, trees and flowers. He now tore down the 
two old log cabins, and with the serviceable lumber 
built a small double cabin at the further end of the 
yard, which was used for a neat-house. 

All of these improvements were not completed at once. 
Winter came on while the convent was in course of erection 
and many privations were endured by the sisters who showed 
themselves women of courageous resolution. 

It is related [says the Annals of LorettoY that their 
original cabin home having been removed to make way 
for the new buildings, they, having no place of abode, 
put up the logs again with their own hands. The 
wood that warmed them during that winter, and many 
a subsequent winter for that matter, they cut and 
hauled home. Poverty the direst was theirs. They 
knew what it was to experience cold and hunger, and 
with the dawn of every morning met fear of the future 
face to face. And yet they never quailed. Never 
once did they look back, never did they doubt. Trust 
in Providence and Providence will never desert you. 

Minogue: op. ri/., New York, 1912, p. 41 tt seq. 


This was the motto their Director gave, and they 
inscribed it on their hearts. 

But a greater trial than poverty and suffering that 
first year of its existence held for the young com- 
munity. Death, at whose feet have fallen hopes as fair 
and fond as were sustaining those young women, bat- 
tling for the existence of their Society on the sparsely 
settled frontier, was to come among them. Early in 
the summer they caught a glimpse of its forerunner, 
sorrow, as they looked on the face of Mother Ann 
Rhodes, where a color too bright for health showed 
at times on her cheek and a light too brilliant burned 
in her dark eyes. Slowly but sternly came the knowl- 
edge that the days of their Superior were numbered, 
and well then might desolation and surrender over- 
whelm them. From the hour she had first come among 
them she had been their inspiration and their guide, 
and their instinctive recognition of her superiority had 
made them select her for their Superior when, reason- 
ably, their choice should have fallen upon her sister, 
or one of her two first companions. 

Yet never did the spirit of Mother Ann Rhodes 
reveal its lofty character more clearly than now, as 
around her began to fall the shadows of the closing 
hours. She looked death in the face unafraid, and, 
summoning all the strength she unconsciously had been 
storing for this ordeal, having taught her daughters 
how to live, she would show them how to die. As if 
the great mortal change were not rapidly drawing 
nigh, she continued her duties, working by their side; 
nor did the sorrow that seemed to break their loyal 
hearts dim the holy joy that was animating hers. She 
loved them, she would have continued with them, but 
if one of their number must fare forth on the long 
journey, illumine the pathway for them to that Other 
Country, who should this be if not she, their Mother, 
who had led them up from the level lands of the flesh 
to the lofty mount of the spirit? 


But the time came when the rapidly disintegrating 
human organism could no longer obey the behests of 
the will, and Mother Ann must perforce lie quietly on 
her bed of straw, while around her went on the great 
work of building. We have looked upon the poverty 
of the Sisters, and we may picture that last illness of 
Mother Ann; yet such was the height of her sanctity 
that although she had known but a few months of the 
religious life, she accepted the sacrifice with equanimity. 
From her bed she continued to direct the affairs of 
her community and instruct both Sisters and pupils. 
Father Nerinckx was often with her, and broke for 
her the Bread of Life. Early in December he gave 
her the last Sacraments. She lingered until Friday, 
the eleventh of the month, and then, in the early dawn 
of that December day, Mother Ann Rhodes entered 
the portals of Heaven. 

Loving sentiment would wish this first death in the Soci- 
ety to have occurred just one day earlier on the Feast of 
the Holy House of Loreto. But this is a new Loretto 
LORETTO IN AMERICA, distinct from Loreto in 
Italy; and it was therefore fitting that it should establish, 
for its own, new dates as memorable in its record as 
are those observed at the shrine whence it derived its 

Precious as her life had been for them [continues 
the dnnals] her death was more so, and the misfortune 
that might have meant defeat had been transmuted 
into victory. She seemed to call to them from the 
world she had entered, "Where I am you, too, shall 
come." The first Mother of Loretto had a right to 
expect that her generation of spiritual daughters would 
be continued on earth to form a glorious and ever- 
increasing train in the court of Heaven. And so Jt 
befell that when the hour came from which they had 
shrunk, whose outcome they feared, they found the 


darts of Sorrow had been blunted, while over her 
shoulder looked the face of joy. 

A grave in the frozen ground was dug in the little 
convent cemetery, and after the funeral rite celebrated 
in the chapel by Father Nerinckx, they consigned to 
earth the mortal tenement of her who had been Mother 
Ann Rhodes, first Superior of Loretto. The rule of 
disposing of the dead, which Father Nerinckx drew 
up and which the founders accepted, decreed that no 
coffin should be used; and perhaps in nothing else was 
the complete victory over the flesh more boldly pro- 
nounced, for howsoever highly we may philosophize, 
or deeply believe, primitive nature revolts at the 
thought of the consignment of the body to the earth, 
and in the vain effort to prevent it from returning into 
the elements of which it was compounded steel is 
welded into caskets and marble built into mausoleums. 
Wrapped only in her poor dress, with her coarse veil 
drawn over her face, Mother Ann was laid down for 
her long sleep; and, following that first burial, the 
custom obtained in the heroic Loretto Sisterhood until 
1 839, when it was changed by orders from Rome. The 
change, however, was not brought about by the Sisters, 
but by a Reverend Father Boullier, who, witnessing in 
1837 the interment of a Sister in Perry County, Mis- 
souri, burst into tears and vowed that he would have 
the rule revoked. 

The Sisters now proceeded to elect a successor to 
their first Superior, and they chose Sister Mary Rhodes, 
the actual founder of the Society. The election was 
confirmed by Father Nerinckx, who appointed Sister 
Christina Stuart Sister Eldest, Sister Clare Morgan 
remaining as Directress of the School. For ten con- 
secutive years Mother Mary presided over the Society, 
beholding its wonderful growth from the tiny mustard 
seed she had planted in the wilderness. From 1822, 
when her term of office expired, until her death, in 
1853, she sought to live in obscurity, disclaiming all 


honors connected with the foundation of the Sister- 
hood, hut loved and revered, as she well deserved to 
be, by the other members of the fast growing Society. 

Death interrupted, but it brought no cessation of 
the activities in the home of religion and education. 
The poverty, however, increased with the progress of 
the winter. We are told that during that year, and 
many an after year, their breakfast consisted of bread 
and vegetable soup or coffee, served in tin cups; for 
supper they had bread and milk, or sage tea, while 
their dinner, eaten from tin plates, consisted of vege- 
tables and one kind of meat, when they could procure 
it. ... 

The remuneration they received from their weaving 
and spinning carried the community through the win- 
ter of 1813, and left them in a position to meet an 
additional expenditure that the year was to bring. In 
August their period of probation would expire, and 
when they approached the altar to take the vows 
that would bind them to the religious life an attire 
emblematic of their withdrawal from the world was 
not only desirable, but necessary. Their clever fingers 
wove the material for veil and habit, and the herbs 
of the woods, in whose virtues they, like all frontier 
women, were versed, gave to the articles the somber 
hue their rule required. The girdle and scapular were 
also supplied, and when the Feast of the Assumption, 
August 15, 1813, dawned the countryside assembled 
in St. Charles Church to witness the culmination of the 
act of which they had seen the beginning on April 25th 
of the preceding year. 

Headed by the happy school children, walking two 
and two, Mother Mary Rhodes and her four com- 
panions, Sisters Christina Stuart, Ann and Sarah 
Havern and Clare Morgan, clad in the religious habit, 
walked from their convent, half a mile away, and, 
passing through the silent congregation, approached 
the altar, where, kneeling at the feet of Father 


Nerinckx, they solemnly pronounced perpetual vows 
of poverty, chastity and obedience, and made the Soci- 
ety of the Friends of Mary, called Sisters of Loretto 
at the Foot of the Cross, a consummated fact. The 
last doubt in the mind of the community at large was 
then dispelled, the last fear of Father Nerinckx laid 
at rest, and any feeling of uncertainty that might have 
troubled the five women themselves was banished. 
Come what might, their Society was established, and 
while life remained they were bound to it by that day's 
solemn compact. Every experience that could test the 
heart and try the spirit had been theirs during their 
time of probation, nor had they any reason to think 
that conditions would soon be altered; notwithstanding 
this, they would press on, and, dying, bequeath their 
work to those whom they doubted not God would raise 
to receive it from their hands. Trusting in His provi- 
dence, they gave themselves entirely to Him, and 
turned from the altar first Spouses of Christ in the 

The impression the service made on the assemblage 
was deep. In one generous heart it was the Voice 
commanding, "Leave what thou hast, and come, follow 
Me I" Scarcely had the newly professed nuns retired 
to their convent, when with fawnlike fleetness their 
first candidate followed, and Loretto opened her door 
to admit Miss Monica Spalding, first of the many of 
her family to consecrate life and noble gifts to the 
service of God. Their number was increased a little 
later by the arrival of a Miss Hayden from Missouri. 
Deprived of every religious advantage, not even hav- 
ing made her First Communion, like the Baptist in the 
desert, the call of the Lord came to her, and she made 
haste to respond. She traversed the weary miles, and, 
reaching Loretto, besought Father Nerinckx to admit 
her into the Society. None could question that voca- 
tion, and after a course of instruction Susan Hayden 
made her First Communion and entered the novitiate 


on the same day, October 12, 1814, taking the name 
of Sister Mechtildes. In 1815 Loretto received her 
first novices from among her pupils in the persons of 
Agnes Hart, Ann Clarke, Esther Grundy and Ann 
Wathen. Miss Hart had left the Sisters' school to 
engage in teaching near her home in Breckenridge 
County; but the happiness she had experienced in the 
convent school life drew her back, and the pupil 
returned to become a novice. The other three were 
still in the schoolroom and notwithstanding their 
youth, being but fifteen years of age, these chosen souls 
evinced the knowledge that is of God, and, obtaining 
the consent of their parents, entered the novitiate. 
The convent chapel had been the scene of no such 
ceremony until this interesting reception of Loretto's 
three children, August I5th of that year. All lived 
long and happily, and two of the three filled the high- 
est offices in the Society. 

This spirit of parental surrender did not animate 
every father and mother of that period, and the more 
worldly minded grew alarmed on beholding the fairest 
flowers of the community transplanted to the convent 
garden. Upon Father Nerinckx they fastened the 
blame, for the apostolic old priest in their eyes seemed 
to possess hypnotic power over these young maidens, 
by which he drew them into the cloister, there to waste 
their fair lives. To such a pitch did their zeal for 
the supposed victims of priestly influence carry them 
that it became necessary for Bishop Flaget to interfere. 
He journeyed down to St. Charles Church, and to the 
concourse of people assembled to hear him explained 
the dignity of the religious life, and bade parents 
rejoice when one of their daughters had been deemed 
worthy of their espousals with Christ. The members 
of the new community were there of their own free 
will, he assured them, and at any time could leave if 
they so desired. The bishop had gained an ascendancy 
over the minds of the people, his words had the effect 


of dispelling the opposition against the convent, and 
the novices were permitted to continue their chosen 
way in peace. 

The establishment of the Society gave unusual pleasure 
to Bishop Flaget. 

I have many times heard him say [wrote Father 
Nerinckx in 1815] when favoring me with a visit, as 
he did frequently, to rest from his labors and forget 
the trials and heartaches inseparable from high posi- 
tions, "Every time I come here I inhale a fragrance 
that remains with me three weeks. What a consola- 
tion these holy women are ! What devotion they give 
me! May God be praised for it I" 

The zeal that had fired the soul of Mother Rhodes to 
devote herself to bettering the conditions of the neglected 
children on Hardin's Creek had so increased in intensity 
and volume that she prepared to give ready response to 
the wishes of Bishop Flaget when he requested teachers for 
Holy Mary's congregation, at Calvary. Sister Christina 
Stuart, second member of the Society, was sent as Superior, 
and the house was opened on June 10, 1816. Poverty, 
like that which had attended the beginning of the Society, 
was experienced here, and often the sisters were without 
the necessary food to sustain them in their labors. One 
of these occasions is mentioned by Bishop Flaget, writing 
from Gethsemani, September 26, 1820, to Father Chabrat, 
then in France: 

... A roebuck (chevreuil), pressed to extremity 
by dogs which were on the point of seizing it, fell 
almost dead at the feet of three or four Sisters at 
Calvary, who were cutting wood and who suspended 
their work to catch it, believing that Providence was 
sending it to them so opportunely, for their meathouse 
was entirely destitute. 


This first Loretto foundation prospered, however, and 
was followed by others in Kentucky within a few years. 
Gethsemani was founded in 1818; Bethania, near Fairfield, 
in 1819; Mt. Carmel, in Breckenridge County, in 1823; 
and Mt. Olivet, in 1824. 

In February, 1822, when the first General Election under 
the approved Constitutions was held, Mother Julianna 
(Ann Wathen), one of the first pupils to enter the little 
school on Hardin's Creek, in i8i2> was elected Dear 
Mother and Generalissima of the whole society. Under 
Mother Wathen's administration, the Society of Loretto 
made its first advance out of the State. In response to a 
request from Bishop Du Bourg, the sisters opened, in 1823, 
the school of "Bethlehem," at the Barrens, in Perry County, 
Missouri. Rightly was it named; for the poverty, hard- 
ships, and sufferings of Bethlehem were here in greater 
abundance even than had been experienced in the founda- 
tion days of Kentucky. But it became a consecrated spot, 
for here it was that the body of Father Nerinckx was to 
rest for a time after his death at St. Genevieve, August 12, 
1824. Father Nerinckx had left Kentucky, in the preceding 
June, for the Lorettine missions in Missouri. He did not 
die surrounded by his daughters as he had wished, but he 
had with him his devoted friends, the priests of the Con- 
gregation of the Mission, when the end finally came. Then 
two days later the sisters at Bethlehem received his remains, 
carrying them to the chapel where they placed them before 
the altar. According to the Annals of the Sisters of 

There, surrounded by his daughters, Father 
Nerinckx kept the last of many vigils before the taber- 
nacle. On the same day, which was Saturday, the 
obsequies were held. The solemn high Mass was cele- 
brated by Reverend Father Odin of the Barrens, in 
the presence of Bishop Rosati, who gave the final abso- 


lution and preached the sermon. The remains were 
then conveyed to the convent graveyard and deposited 
in the grave. 

The Sisters, however, not satisfied to permit these 
venerable relics to rest under ground, waited only 
until Monday morning to disinter the body and place 
it in the tomb which Brother James Van Rysselberghe 
had built. Here rested for nine years all that was 
mortal of Reverend Charles Nerinckx, for Bishop 
Rosati, though brief had been his acquaintance with 
the broken old missionary who had come to him for 
refuge from the storm that had burst upon him in the 
evening of his days, beheld the saint before him, and 
rightly prized his sacred ashes as the most precious 
possession of his diocese. To the pleading of Bishop 
Flaget and the sorrowing Superiors of Loretto's 
Mother House he turned for long a deaf ear; but 
finally prayer prevailed, and he gave back to Loretto 
her holy founder. On December 16, 1833, Brother 
Charles Gilbert reached the Sisters' new home at 
St. Stephen's Farm with the remains and while the sad 
bells tolled across the still Kentucky hills the black- 
robed nuns went down the sweeping avenue of elms 
that Father Badin had planted, to give mournful wel- 
come to their beloved founder. Where, twenty-eight 
years ago, the generous-hearted Father Badin had met 
him with outstretched arms and a brother's greeting, 
his weeping children received him, and gave him what 
his spirit must have craved, a tomb beneath Kentucky 
skies, a resting-place on Loretto's hallowed grounds. 

He has thus held in death his still watch over 
Loretto from his marble tomb in the little graveyard, 
and there generations of his daughters have resorted 
to pray; there they kneeled to say farewell when the 
voice of Duty called them far from the Mother House 
of their affection, and there, when their allotted task 
was done, they, too, laid them down for the long wait 
he is keeping. Loretto has sought to honor her 


founder, and at the same time show her respect and 
reverence for the spot where Father Nerinckx and 
Father Badin first met when this rich country was a 
wilderness, where their days of holy companionship 
were spent, and where Kentucky's first bishop, the 
sainted Flaget, was welcomed to his See. Here 
Loretto has erected a new and appropriate tomb for 
her founder. It is fitting this should be. Still was 
something wanting from the sacred spot, the ashes of 
him who first planted the Cross on that height. Father 
Badin died out of that Kentucky which he loved, as 
must every evangelist the scene of his missionary 
labors, especially when they are so rich as were his 
in the harvest of souls. While not driven by persecu- 
tion, as was Father Nerinckx, yet he felt, and per- 
chance had the sad knowledge pressed in upon him, 
that his days of usefulness were over. Cincinnati, 
under the amiable Archbishop Purcell, gave him the 
welcome his early companion had received from 
Bishop Rosati, and when he died laid him beside 
her first bishop, Fenwick, under the crypt of her 

Kentucky had greater claim to the high and holy 
trust of guarding the last resting-place of her apostle, 
but when fifty years had passed without that claim 
being pressed, with commendable zeal for the honor 
due the proto-priest, their benefactor, whom they num- 
ber among the founders of the university, the Fathers 
of the Holy Cross Congregation, on March 17, 1904, 
removed his remains to an appropriate mausoleum 
they had erected at the University of Notre Dame, 
Indiana. Father Badin bequeathed his heart to 
Loretto, and the earnest petition of the Sisters for a 
relic to be enshrined at the Mother House, the home 
so long of Father Badin and their own venerated 
founder, was graciously granted by the university. 
With grateful hearts the precious relic was received 
and placed in an appropriate monument erected at the 


suggestion of Reverend Edwin Drury, by the clergy 
of the diocese. 10 

And then the day came when Mother Mary Rhodes, too, 
was called to her reward, and beside the mother house of 
"Loretto was heaped another silent grave. For thirty years 
she had lived in obscurity, humbly refusing all honors con- 
nected with the beginning of the institute. The silence 
she had so loved for years was to be made complete by her 
passing. Now she would keep silent watch over Loretto 
and her children, with only the cedars and the stars as 
sentinels of her vigil. 

But the Lord's reward for lowliness, for selflessness, and 
for self-effacement is never insignificant; He loves too well 
the humble of heart not to make of them possessors of the 
land and conquerors of the people. Mary Rhodes was not 
to pass like a ship in the night and leave no trace of her 
silent passage. Her name and memory were never to be 
forgotten in the community of her fashioning; her life of 
lowliness was to make its impress on the Society never to 
be effaced. Before the eyes of her spiritual daughters 
would always be the vision of the self-immolation of their 
foundress, the quiet greatness of her being. The ideals 
she lived and died for were to remain after her and flourish ; 
and upon them the Loretto of her heart's making would 
year after year add to the benediction of her name and 

And so in the years that succeeded, the same heroic spirit 
that inspired the little band at Hardin's Creek, the same 
dauntless courage that founded Calvary, Gethsemani, and 
Bethlehem led the daughters of Mother Rhodes into still 
newer fields; even to the outskirts of civilization, for such 
was the great Southwest in 1852, when the little band of 
six left the mother house to cross the trackless plains to 

10 Minogue, op. cit., New York, 1912, p. 76 et seg. 


found a house in Santa Fe. Those were the days of the 
prairie schooners; those were the days when Death stalked 
in the trail of such caravans and often claimed a victim. 
Loretto placed in desert graves two of her daughters whose 
eyes had longed to rest on Santa Fe, and whose hearts had 
yearned for the work of Christ awaiting them in the City 
of Holy Faith. 

The daughters of Mother Rhodes toiled with the intrepid 
Lamy in the land of the turquoise sky; they shared the 
hardships of the indefatigable Machebeuf on the mountain- 
sides of Denver. Pioneering the way into Oklahoma and 
Kansas, their labors among the Indians were those of apos- 
tles; they carried on into Texas, Arizona, and California, 
building in the hearts of young and old shrines more beauti- 
ful than any material temple. To China, too, they have 
stretched their hands, to minister to those of a nation sit- 
ting in the darkness of paganism. In times of plague and 
pestilence they have gone out of their schoolrooms into 
camp and hospital and lowly mountain cabin, to give their 
services and, if need be, their lives for the sick and dying. 
Wherever they have walked there have been found the 
pearls of their scattering, the pearls of great price which 
have been placed in their hands by Him as a reward for 
the humility and lowliness of their first Mother. Strong 
of faith and fervent of spirit they have exalted her before 
all creatures and have proclaimed her their foundress. 
Generations will revere her as one of America's greatest 



SOMEONE has said that by some charming alchemy in 
nature, those places are often the most lovely where men 
have toiled and suffered most. In a thousand acres of quiet 
Kentucky meadow land there stands to-day the mother 
house of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. But not much 
more than a hundred years ago this name of lowliness and 
simplicity was given quite appropriately to a cabin of logs, 
deep in the wilderness that spread south of the Ohio. It 
was a primitive dwelling that refused to keep out the win- 
ter's cold and the torrential rains of the equinox. Many 
a night the snow blew mercilessly like a white wolf from 
an angry, threatening sky. Frozen were the fields about 
it in winter, and the roads that passed the door were sheets 
of treacherous ice. Food was scarce those days at Naza- 
reth. But Christ's chosen ones have been brave before 
and since; the sisters heard the wind howl in the forest, 
and felt it enter the cabin, covering their beds with blankets 
of snow as they tried to sleep. The spring came slowly 
that year, but finally June smiled upon the scene of such 
suffering, June with its canopy of blue by day and its glory 
of stars by night. The years passed quickly on, and the 
lowly cabin of logs was changed into the great institution 
of the present. Such is the triumph of that faith and forti- 
tude born in the Nazareth of yesterday, such is the crown 
worn to-day by the daughters of Mother Spalding, that 
great woman who lived and labored a century ago among 
the hills and meadows of Kentucky. 

It was the charity and wisdom of this same Catherine 




Spalding that guided the beginnings of the Sisters of Char- 
ity of Nazareth. She was born in St. Charles County, 
Maryland, December 23, 1793. Her father was Ralph 
Spalding, a second cousin of Richard, father of the Most 
Reverend Martin Spalding, seventh Archbishop of Balti- 
more. Catherine lost her parents when she was yet a small 
child, and from that time forward made her home with 
her uncle, Thomas Elder, who had come to Kentucky in 
1799. Before leaving Maryland the Elders had given hos- 
pitality to the exiled prince and priest, the Reverend 
Demetrius Gallitzin. In Kentucky, too, the portals of their 
home were always open wide, especially to religious. God 
rewarded their charity and zeal, for from this family He 
called a goodly number into His service, including the Most 
Reverend William H. Elder, Archbishop of Cincinnati, and 
the Reverend William H. Clark, President of St. Mary's 
College, Kentucky. Catholic parents will find few examples 
of Christian life more worthy of imitation than Thomas 
Elder and his wife. It was to the influence of their truly 
Christian lives that Catherine Spalding later attributed in 
a great measure her own religious vocation. 

From the beginning of his episcopate, Bishop Flaget 
desired to secure for his diocese a community of religious 
women, capable of giving instruction to the children who 
were fast filling the homes of the first Catholic settlers of 
Kentucky. He and Father David had lent aid to the Sisters 
of Charity of Emmitsburg, founded by Mother Seton in 
1809. Bishop Flaget and Father David saw that the rule 
of St. Vincent de Paul was admirably suited to the needs 
of the times and to the circumstances in which they were 
now placed in Kentucky. The infant community among the 
hills of Maryland was appealed to, but Mother Seton could 
not spare sisters for the new field. To bring religious from 
France was out of the question. The Bishop had no means 
at his command to do so, and if he had had the sisters 


rrained in France could be but ill prepared at the best to 
Tieet the actual demands of the American missions. There- 
fore, there was no choice left but to attempt the formation 
i>f a community at home. To accomplish such an end 
Bishop Flaget and Father David, afterwards coadjutor of 
;he diocese, turned to the field around them for helpers. 
Their eyes finally rested upon a few Kentucky women, who 
Answered Father David's urgent appeal, and the Sisters of 
pharity of Nazareth came into being. True lilies of the 
yildwood were these daughters of the pioneer Catholic set- 
.jlers of Kentucky lilies among thorns, inured to hardship, 
vith bright minds and generous hearts, unworldly, and 
jtrong in their simple faith. They needed but to be led 
ji the way of perfection to be made perfect. Father David 
fas a master guide for such an important journeying. 
j The beginning of Nazareth was made on the first day of 
December, 1812. The Bishop and Father David had estab- 
shed themselves previously on the farm of St. Thomas, 
elson County, in a log house consisting of four rooms, 
above and two below. Here, too, was the seminary 
if the diocese, the nursery of the Kentucky clergy of the 
krly days. One day there came to the priest a Miss Teresa 
'^arrico, who, having heard Father David preach in her 
lome in Washington County, decided to present herself 
pr the cause of charity and education. She was followed 
ttortly afterward by Miss Elizabeth Wells, of Jefferson 
jounty, sister of General Wells and Captain Wells, officers 
t the War of r 8 1 2. Father David established both women 
j two rooms of his own dwelling, where in December of 
fcat year their routine of dedicated labor was begun. 
- Catherine Spalding came to the little community in Jan- 
iry 21, 1813. She was then but nineteen years of age, 
,t was recognized as one possessing exceptional endow- 
r ,ents of mind and character. On the day of her arrival, 
jather David presented the community of three women 


not only with rules, but he made clear to them their duties 
of life, and arranged the order of the day's exercises; then 
he named as Superior the oldest of the three, until that 
time when the size of the community would warrant a reg- 
ular election. By Easter three new postulants had arrived, 
and after a retreat of seven days the first election of the 
sisterhood was held. Catherine Spalding was chosen first 
Mother, because of her discretion, wisdom, far-sightedness, 
and, above all, because of her simplicity and holiness. 
Father David continued as instructor and spiritual director 
to these devoted souls, who were thus laying a deep and 
wide foundation of humility, self-sacrifice, and solid instruc- 
tion, upon which the Nazareth of to-day is builded. 

The seminarians and neighbors, in the meantime, had 
hewed logs and had built for the sisters a separate house 
in an adjoining field. Father David called this primitive 
convent "Nazareth" to imitate the virtues which the Holy 
Family had practiced in that blessed abode where "Jesus 
grew in wisdom and grace before God and Man." "There," 
said Father David, "seeking to be unknown, the Son of God 
gave us the example of perfect purity of life, of the obedi- 
ence, humility, and poverty that ought to be riches of 
religious houses." 1 

The sisters were known first as "Sisters of Charity," and 
later as "Sisters of Charity of Nazareth." The new log 
cabin contained two rooms and a half-story above, the 
latter serving as a dormitory, whereas one of the lower 
rooms was used as a community room, and the other as a 
kitchen. The privations and sufferings experienced in this 
first Nazareth were extreme. The lack of resources at the 
time deprived the sisters of sufficient salt to season their 
corn cakes. Mother Catherine's fear for her little com- 
munity was often intense, but she locked her worries in her 
heart, and prayed constantly. The industry of the sisters 

1 McGill, The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, New York, 1917, p. 22. 


in their new home, however, enabled them to make gar- 
ments for the families of the surrounding country; the pro- 
ceeds they began to share immediately with the poor of 
the neighborhood. Also, they wove, spun, and made cloth- 
ing for the students of the seminary; they visited the sick, 
taught the children and servants of the neighborhood, and 
performed acts of charity without distinction of creed. 
They rejoiced in doing the common things of life uncom- 
monly well. 

Every moment that Father David could spare was 
devoted to the instruction of the postulants. But he had 
charge of his own seminary and the duties of the mission 
could not be neglected. It is not strange, therefore, that 
at times he became disheartened. But in the midst of his 
greatest difficulties Providence raised up for his relief the 
very instrument of which he was in most need. Among his 
former parishoners in Maryland, Father David had inspired 
a young woman, Miss Eleanor O'Connell, with an ardent 
desire for God's service. She heard of the efforts Father 
David was making to organize a society of religious women 
in Kentucky, and with undaunted courage she journeyed 
westward, entered the novitiate, and became, under God, 
one of his and Mother Catherine's most valuable assistants. 
She had received an excellent education, was an experienced 
teacher, and at once became instructress of the sisterhood, 
thus relieving Father David of a portion of his cares. 
Mother Catherine rejoiced in this acquisition, for these 
were days of darkest forebodings, and the future held very 
little hope for a betterment of conditions. Others soon 
came and gathered around the little standard raised up in 
the name of Christ and for His glory. And with these 
associates, Mother Catherine Spalding inaugurated many 
of the' works she laid down only with her life. With no 
other means than the faith and perseverance that filled 
their devoted hearts she and her companions assumed bur- 


dens that since then have been transformed into lasting 
monuments of their zeal, promoting the honor and glory 
of God and the salvation of souls unnumbered. Schools, 
hospitals, orphan asylums have come into being through 
their blessed inspiration, and through these institutions a 
victory has been gained over ignorance, destitution, and 
suffering. Nobly did Mother Catherine and her associates 
strive and labor and endure; and long before her death 
she beheld, if not the complete fulfillment of all her hopes, 
at least the partial accomplishment of each cherished object 
which she had in view from the beginning. It is, likewise, 
remarkable that, after a century of activity and increase, 
there is not a single special work of charity done by 
the Society which Mother Catherine did not personally 

In 1814 Father David opened a school which grew stead- 
ily. A building put up for the boarding pupils was finished 
and occupied in 1815. It was made of logs which had been 
felled by the students of the seminary during their hours 
of recreation. The most rigid economy practiced during 
the following year enabled the sisters to accumulate means 
to erect a small frame chapel. Who will recount the sweet 
joy of that day of days, in the summer of 1816, when 
Father David bore the Blessed Sacrament across the field 
to this new sanctuary which the love of these first sisters 
had prepared for him? Their hearts throbbed with grati- 
tude as they followed in procession with their pupils and 
seminarians, and then received a hallowed benediction at 
the close. The sisters could not sleep that night for very 
joy. Referring to that solemn event in after years, Mother 
Catherine said, "It seemed to me as if no trials, no diffi- 
culties could ever seem very hard again after our Lord 
Himself had come to abide with us in the gift of gifts, the 
Holy Eucharist." 

In this humble chapel, the community's first sanctuary, 


Father David said Mass once a week. On the other days 
the sisters had to walk a mile and a half over the meadows 
to old St. Thomas's. But they counted this sacrifice as 
nothing, for their pathway led to the tabernacle, and to 
the breaking of Bread in the twilight of early Kentucky 

During these formative years Mother Catherine and the 
sisters had been following the provisional rules drawn up 
by Father David in 1813. Now they were to receive the 
rules of St. Vincent de Paul, who was from thenceforth 
to be their guide and model, their patron and protector. 
This wise and holy rule had been brought to America in 
1 8 10, when, at the request of Bishop Carroll, of Baltimore, 
Bishop Flaget had secured a copy from the superiors of 
the Sisters of Charity in France for Mother Seton's com- 
munity in Emmitsburg. In the minds of Bishop Flaget and 
Father David, each of whom had ministered to the spiritual 
wants of the sisters of Emmitsburg, this same rule was 
thought best suited for the Kentucky sisterhood. When 
the Nazareth community was being planned, the Bishop 
asked Mother Seton to send two of the Maryland sisters to 
train the Kentucky institute in the spiritual life; but at the 
time the sisters could not be spared from Emmitsburg. 8 
Mother Seton, however, had in her possession the original 
rules as obtained from France, written by Bishop Flaget 
himself, and with marginal notes by Bishop Carroll. A 
copy was made for Nazareth, whereas the precious original 
was kept at Emmitsburg, where it is extant to-day in the 
community archives. Later the "Conference of St. Vincent" 
was transcribed at Emmitsburg for the sisters in Kentucky. 
It is a significant fact that Nazareth, too, has thus felt 
the ministrations of the sainted Mother Seton, she whom 
it seems will be the first American to be raised to the honors 
of the Altar. Other sisterhoods in the country have 
2 Archives of St. Joseph's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland. 


received from the Emmitsburg community the rules of St. 
Vincent de Paul, but Nazareth was the first, and this bond 
of charity and sweet relationship that links the purple hills 
of Maryland with the meadows of Kentucky has made the 
communities of Mother Seton and Mother Spalding one in 
spirit and one in endeavor. Although they are distinct in 
origin and in history they are animated with the same zeal 
which, for centuries, has inspired the daughters of St. Vin- 
cent throughout the world to such works of Christian hero- 
ism. Through their holy foundresses, they are bound irrev- 
ocably to that humble priest of the seventeenth century 
whose principles to-day are living realities wherever the 
earth has been blessed by the presence of his consecrated 
daughters. For the sake of Christ and suffering humanity, 
he dared to prevision a work that at the time was revolu- 
tionary in scope and in nature. And these same ideals are 
being perpetuated in two of the most spiritual groups of 
women in modern America the Vincentian white-capped 
daughters of Elizabeth Seton, and those of Catherine 

McGill in her history of the Sisters of Charity of Naza- 
reth says: 

When Mother Catherine and her little band received 
their rule in 1815, they adopted a uniform consisting 
of a black habit, cape and apron such as is still worn. 
This, their first religious dress, was spun, woven and 
colored by their own hands, after the worthy custom 
of colonial days. The cap was then black, like that 
first worn by the Sisters of Emmitsburg. Six or seven 
years later it was changed to something like its present 
shape and was made of cotton. 

Later the cap of white was adopted and it is in this quaint 
habit that to-day Mother Catherine looks from her por- 
traits upon the community of her building. 

From its very dawn, the year 1 8 1 6 had brought unspeak- 


able happiness to Mother Catherine. On the second of 
February, with Sisters Teresa Carrico, Harriet Gardiner, 
and Mary Beavin, she made her first vows. Early in the 
summer of the same year her sister, Ann Spalding, entered 
the novitiate, and to Mother Catherine's great joy proved 
herself an admirable and gifted religious. 

In 1818, the income from the academy enabled Mother 
Catherine to put up a brick building for the accommoda- 
tion of the boarders, now increased to thirty. "The new 
house was scantily furnished, " says McGill, "but the sisters, 
disciplined in the practice of poverty, slept with light hearts 
upon their straw pallets while waiting better times." The 
privations patiently endured from the beginning were such 
that it would be difficult now to fully realize them. They 
spun, wove, and fashioned the clothing they wore. They 
were obliged to labor in the fields, to plant and gather the 
grain. They had no means to hire servants; therefore, the 
work of the farm, the care of the domestic animals, and 
the charge of the household rested entirely upon their own 

By the rule drawn up by St. Vincent de Paul and given 
to the new society through Father David, the term of office 
of the Superior was limited to three years, and no one was 
eligible for a longer period than two consecutive terms. 
In 1819, Mother Catherine, having governed the society 
for six years, insisted on surrendering the first position in 
the community. Bishop Flaget and Father David, as well 
as the sisters, wished her to continue at the head during 
her lifetime. Many reasons were adduced to sustain the 
advisability of this plan. But Mother Catherine urged the 
necessity of observing the rule exactly from the beginning. 
She pleaded her cause so well that it prevailed, and Mother 
Agnes Higdon was elected to succeed her as Superior of 
the promising little society. Mother Catherine remained, 
however, the guiding spirit while she lived, and nothing 


of importance was undertaken without her counsel and 

Meanwhile, St. Joseph's Cathedral was built in Bards- 
town and was consecrated on the eighth of August, 1819. 
On the octave of that joyful event, the Feast of the Assump- 
tion, Father David was consecrated Bishop of Mauricas- 
trum and became coadjutor to Bishop Flaget, of Bardstown. 
The Bishop's residence and his seminary were then trans- 
ferred from St. Thomas to the cathedral. 

On the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, the 
eighth of September, this same year, the sisters opened 
Bethlehem Academy, also in Bardstown. Bishop David, 
whose mind was always bent on scriptural, patristic, and 
theological lore, and who had chosen the name of Nazareth 
for the mother house of the sisters, decided that the first 
branch house should be called "Bethlehem." He wished 
to recall in this way, also, as he had endeavored likewise 
in the meaning of the mother house, lessons of humility, 
childlike simplicity, and devotion. Other Nazareths and 
Bethlehems have arisen throughout the States, but these 
were the first. They have stood faithfully during the years, 
bearing their message of the Holy Infancy and boyhood 
days of the divine Redeemer. 

The establishment of the colony in Bardstown was not 
only the first establishment away from the mother house, 
but it was also the first act of the administration of Mother 
Agnes. Sister Harriet Gardiner was placed at the head 
of the institution, and the office of Mistress of Novices, 
which she had filled, was now occupied by Mother Catherine. 
Here the holy foundress labored zealously to fill the hearts 
of those entrusted to her charge with the spirit of their 
vocation. Happy, indeed, were those sisters who were 
fortunate enough to receive their training in the religious 
life at the hands of Mother Catherine. 

Another branch was established in 1821, with Sister 


Angela Spink in charge. This was St. Vincent's Academy, 
in Union County, called by the sisters "Little Nazareth," 
because it had to struggle with just about the same diffi- 
culties as the mother house, whose beautiful spirit and cus- 
toms the sisters had faithfully carried with them. The 
sisters had to make the journey of one hundred and fifty 
miles on horseback, and carried "two aprons sewed in the 
shape of bags, containing a few articles of clothing, their 
entire baggage." a Sister Angela and her little band of 
sisters were forced to occupy an uncomfortable log cabin 
until the house assigned to them was vacated by a couple 
who at first declined to relinquish the property. Their toil 
in Union County was heroic. It was necessary for them 
to work in the fields and woods, and reap their own har- 
vests, that they might secure their daily sustenance and 
save a little besides for the building of a school. No pio- 
neer Kentucky women have more remarkable deeds to their 
credit than the first Nazareth sisters in Union County. 

Meanwhile, Mother Catherine learned that the ground 
on which the sisters had established themselves at St. 
Thomas could never become their own either by gift or 
purchase. Mother Catherine was especially dismayed, for 
it was absolutely necessary that some location be found. 
At first she thought the loss of their religious home a 
calamity, but it was a blessing in disguise. Divine Provi- 
dence supplied the means of purchasing a new site by send- 
ing to the society another most efficient member, in the 
person of Sister Scholastica O'Connor, who, like Sister 
Ellen, had received the benefit of Bishop David's direction 
during her stay in Maryland. She was a widow, a convert, 
young in years, but mature in virtue. She was an accom- 
plished musician, and though she lived but four years after 
entering the society, she introduced her favorite art into 
the school, and prepared teachers who were able to con- 

3 McGill, op. eh.. New York, 1917, p. 30. 


tinue and extend the work she had begun. She brought 
valuable household utensils, including the clock that stands 
in the convent hall, marking still, as it has marked for a 
century, the time by which the works of the mother house 
are regulated. She brought also three thousand dollars, 
the price of the farm which the sisters bought, two and a 
half miles north of Bardstown, and which had been occu- 
pied by a Presbyterian preacher named Lapsley. 

In March, 1822, three sisters, assisted by two orphans 
and two negroes, began preparations for the new home of 
Nazareth. Crops were planted and a vegetable garden 
started, so that when the time came for the entire com- 
munity to be transferred from the old Nazareth it would 
have at its disposal at least the necessities of life. This 
was the first tilling and planting in the fields which later 
were to blossom into Nazareth's thousand acres of garden 
land. Beautiful is the picture of these first Sisters of Char- 
ity, making ready for the coming of the little religious 
colony to its new mother house. The study of the minister 
was fitted up as a temporary chapel and then another pil- 
grimage was made, when the sisters left the old home for 
the new, passing in procession across the Kentucky meadows 
on that early June morning, 1822, to where the mother 
house of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth stands to-day. 

Bishop David offered the first Mass in the new Naza- 
reth, and a priest from Bardstown came each morning 
afterward to offer the Divine Sacrifice. Bishop David 
himself came every Wednesday, when he heard confessions 
and gave instructions to the sisters. 

The autumn of 1824 brought mourning to Mother 
Spalding, and to every sister at Nazareth. Already in the 
springtime of that year there had been three deaths : Sisters 
Scholastica O'Connor, Agatha Cooper, and Polly Beavin. 
And then on the twenty-fourth of September, Mother Agnes 
Higdon most unexpectedly passed away. She was ill but 


two or three days, stricken in the midst of her active labors 
in behalf of the community. Six days later, Mother Cath- 
erine was elected to replace her. A year before, Mother 
Catherine had founded St. Catherine's Academy, in Scott 
County, and now she transferred the burden of the founda- 
tion to other hands and hastened home only to find Sister 
Columba Tarleton dying. This was a real sorrow to 
Mother Catherine. Added to this sharp personal sorrow, 
trials of a different and more severe nature came to the 
holy foundress. Not only the tender qualities of her heart 
were put to the test, but the strong gifts of her virile mind 
and her superior administrative powers were called to cope 
with unprecedented difficulties. Pupils having come from 
the South with their tuition paid in advance, Mother 
Agnes had been able to lay the foundation of the large 
brick building since used for more than twenty years as an 
academy and for fifty years more as a convent. But the 
treasurer had been changed; no one knew what Mother 
Agnes's plans were, what contracts she had made, how 
much money had or had not been paid out. Mother Cath- 
erine's clear mind and patient but firm management were 
taxed to the utmost to straighten out the entangled affair. 
That she did it quietly, bravely, and wisely, is a credit to 
her memory and a boon to the society. 

Shortly afterward the need of room was most keenly 
felt, for there were not sleeping apartments for .the sisters 
and children. Mother Catherine decided to erect an addi- 
tional building to relieve the crowded conditions, but Bishop 
David said, "Build first a house for your God and He will 
help you build one for yourselves." * Mother Catherine 
was mindful of this advice, and there arose a neat and 
becoming conventual church, which Bishop Flaget proudly 
consecrated. Then she went on with the other buildings, 
and at the close of the following session the new academy 

* Archives of the Sisters of Chanty of Nazareth, Nazareth, Kentucky. 


was sufficiently advanced for the examinations and school's 
exhibition to be held in its principal hall. 

The first Commencement Day, in 1825, was a memorable 
event. Henry Clay presented the diplomas to the first 
graduates of Nazareth. Upon the platform Mother 
Catherine and Sister Ellen joyfully beheld Margaret Car- 
roll, a young girl graduate, modest and beautiful, who had 
whispered to Mother Catherine the request that the name 
of her beloved teacher, Sister Columba, be reserved for her 
when she would return as a postulant. Though the world 
offered her brilliant prospects, the call of Nazareth was 
too insistent and before Mother Catherine laid down the 
burden of life, she knew the part that this gifted young 
woman had in forwarding the work of higher education in 

However strenuous the pressure of other duties, Bishop 
David always found time to lavish upon his spiritual chil- 
dren at Nazareth the riches of his own heart. He was an 
able master in the school of divine charity; he was ready 
at all times to console and to encourage, to correct or 
admonish according to the needs of the case and the impor- 
tance of the situation. But this was done with moderation 
and gentleness, and with a supreme sense of justice. McGill 
relates that: 

On his [Bishop David's] part, deep must have been 
the gratification of seeing the Sisters fulfill their heroic 
routine. They brooked manifold hardships cheerfully, 
bravely arising to them every day. In the morning, 
after a little cornbread and a cup of rye coffee without 
sugar and often without milk, they went to their labors 
in the school room, the fields, the kitchen, the laundry, 
and when, after the usual prayers, they assembled for 
dinner, hunger rendered palatable a piece of cornbread, 
bacon, or "middling," as it was called, with greens or 
some other plain vegetable, cooked on the fire made of 


branches which they themselves had brought from the 
woods. This humble meal partaken of, toil was 
resumed. The evening meal consisted of a morsel of 
cornbread and a cup of sage tea, seasoned like the 
morning's coffee. Often this scanty diet was insuffi- 
cient to satisfy hunger; yet no murmurs were heard. 
The pupils must be served first; the Sisters, humble 
servants of God and the poor, must be sustained chiefly 
upon faith and hope. Upon such foundations of self- 
denial, cheerfulness, sturdy patience was to be built a 
society, strong and resolute for God's glory and the 
good of humanity/ 

By the close of the year 1828, Mother Catherine had 
expended twenty thousand dollars on the improvement of 
the place. With better accommodations the school and the 
community grew in usefulness and in numbers. Both were 
in a flourishing condition in 1831, when the rule called for 
the election of a new Mother. Mother Angela Spink was 
chosen, but she resigned the office after a few months, and 
was succeeded by Mother Frances Gardiner. 

During this year, Mother Catherine, assisted by three sis- 
ters, went to open the Presentation Academy, the first Cath- 
olic school in Louisville. There Mother Catherine also 
began the most cherished of all her life works, her beloved 
Orphan Asylum. Always active in her charities, she visited 
the sick and ministered to the wants of the poor whenever 
it was in her power. One day she learned that two orphan 
children, whose parents had died on the way from New 
Orleans, had been landed at the wharf, friendless and des- 
titute. She became immediately interested in their welfare 
and took them to her home. With the assistance gener- 
ously extended by a number of kind ladies, she arranged 
for their maintenance and education. She became more and 
more keenly alive to the wants of unprotected little ones 

K McGill, op. cit. New York, 1917, p. 35. 


and was bent on the foundation of an establishment in which 
these poor children might find a refuge. The necessity for 
an orphanage increased after the horrors of the cholera 
epidemic in 1832-33. 

In Louisville during this scourge many families were 
stricken. Father Robert Abell who, through the trying 
season, acted as nurse, physician, and priest, advised the 
Board of Health to ask for Sisters of Charity from Naza- 
reth as nurses. The sisters eagerly responded. Before 
their departure from the mother house, Bishop Flaget 
called Father David, Mother Catherine, and the sisters 
into the church, saying, "Come, my children, offer your- 
selves to God." All knelt in silence a few moments; then 
the Bishop read aloud a short act of consecration. When 
this was over the happy little band, like true daughters of 
St. Vincent, went out to their sick and dying in the city. 
Mother Catherine was the first to step across the portals 
of the mother house, the leader of this little army of 
Christ's heroines. 

During this time of the cholera the school was closed, 
and the sisters went to Bardstown, Louisville, and the 
neighborhoods roundabout caring for the sick and dying. 
Agonizing mothers could surrender their lives with peace 
and resignation when Mother Catherine extended her pro- 
tecting arms to shelter their children and promised to care 
for them in the days that were to follow. More than- once 
she was seen coming back to the sisters' home near the old 
St. Louis Church carrying an infant in her apron and 
another on her arm, while a third toddled beside her. 
Twenty-five of these children were crowded into the house, 
and the sisters were forced to give up their beds to the 
little ones. But they could not continue to live thus; some- 
thing had to be done. Mother Catherine's zeal was con- 
tagious. Nazareth purchased a lot on which, with the aid 
of charitable contributions, a building was erected. It was 


called "St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum." Two years later 
the building became too small, and the institution was 
removed to a large house on Jefferson Street that had been 
built for a tavern. Mother Catherine accompanied the 
children to the new home. From this time on, except when 
holding the office of Mother Superior to which she was four 
times called, this was her constant residence. It was her 
chief delight to labor for her "dear little orphans," as she 
was wont to call them. It was in this favored spot that 
she entered into the happiness of Heaven. 

In the new house there was room to spare, and Mother 
Catherine availed herself of this condition to care for the 
sick. One end of the building was arranged for a hospital 
and called "St. Vincent's Infirmary." For some time she 
had been praying that God would place in the sisters' hands 
the means . to serve Him through ministrations to the 
sick and dying, and hence she was extremely happy 
thus to open the doors of the first Catholic hospital in 

Characteristic of Mother Catherine is the letter she 
addressed to the Mayor and Council of Louisville, soon 
after the cholera season. It was through her the Mayor, 
had asked for sisters to care for the sick, and when after- 
ward a non-Catholic minister sought to disparage the 
devotedness of the sisters, calling them "mercenary nurses 
whom the city had paid for their services," and gave refer- 
ence to the city books, where he said their "pay" was regis- 
tered, Mother Catherine nobly appealed to the Mayor and 
Council, thus: 

Gentlemen : At that gloomy period, when the cholera 
threatened to lay our city desolate, and nurses for the 
sick could not be obtained on any terms, Rev. Mr. 
Robert Abell, in the name of the Society of which I 
have the honor to be a member, proffered the gra- 
tuitous services of as many of our Sisters as might 


be necessary in the then existing distress, requiring 
merely that their expenses should be paid. 

This offer was accepted, as the order from your 
Honorable Board inviting the Sisters will now show* 
But when the money was ordered from your treasury 
to defray those expenses, I had the mortification to 
remark that instead of the expression, the u expenses n 
of the Sisters, the word "services" was substituted. 
I immediately remonstrated against it, and even men- 
tioned the circumstance to the Mayor and another 
gentleman of the Council, and upon being promised 
that the error should be corrected, I remained satisfied 
that it had been done, until a late aspersion from one 
of the pulpits of the city leads me to believe that it 
stands uncorrected on your books, for the same books 
were referred to in proof of the aspersion. 

If so, Gentlemen, pardon the liberty I take in refund- 
ing you the amount paid for the above-named expenses, 
well convinced that our community, for whom I have 
acted in this case, would prefer incurring the expense 
rather than submit to such an unjust odium. 

Gentlemen, be pleased to understand that we are 
not hirelings; if we are, in practice, the servants of 
the poor, the sick and the orphan, we are voluntarily 
so, but we look for our reward in another and a better 

With sincere respect, I am, Gentlemen, 

Your obt. servant, 


February 10, 1834. Sister of Charity. 

To the honor of the Mayor and Council, the amount was 
returned, the correction made, and the Mayor apologized 
for the negligence which had left the error standing, and 
given rise to the false assertion above mentioned. 

In 1850, Mother Catherine was elected to resume the 
government of the society and to begin six full, telling years 


in that office. The seminarians had been removed from 
St. Thomas to Bardstown when the cathedral was built and 
now that the See was transferred to Louisville the Jesuit 
Fathers had taken St. Joseph's College in Bardstown. It 
was eight years since Bishop David had passed to his eter- 
nal reward. Bishop Flaget had just died, and his recent 
coadjutor, the Right Reverend Martin J. Spalding, now at 
the head of the diocese, appointed the Reverend F. Cham- 
bige to bring back to life the old seminary at St. Thomas. 
Soon it began to take on new vigor and sisters from Naza- 
reth were sent to take charge of the infirmary and ward- 
robe, to superintend the kitchen and refectory work, and 
to assume the general management of the household. 

Shortly after these changes, Mother Catherine visited 
again the old haunts where Nazareth had its beginniug; 
she renewed her vows before the altar in the little chapel 
adjoining the church where she had first pronounced them. 
The brick walls she had put up at old Nazareth were still 
standing; she peered into every nook and corner, went down 
to the old spring, tenderly recalling the early days and the 
early workers that were now gone on before her. She 
told Father Chambige to tear down that building and to 
use the brick for the orphans' home he intended erecting 
in connection with the seminary. Then she -resolutely 
turned away and never saw that spot again. With her this 
day were Sisters Victoria Buckman and Bernardirie O'Brien ; 
they were the ones who later told the pathetic story of 
Mother Catherine's leave-taking of the places and things 
most dear to her heart. 

There was work before Mother Catherine, and she must 
be about it. Once more the buildings of the mother house 
were overcrowded, and she planned new ones. The coun- 
sel of Bishop David was then recalled, and she felt that a 
church should arise first. William Keeley, the best archi- 
tect in the country, was secured. The stone was quarried, 


the lime produced, and the brick made out of material on 
the farm, that extended over a thousand acres. And thus 
the convent church, French Gothic in architecture, arose, 
the gem of the diocese, as Bishop Spalding called it. It 
was consecrated on the nineteenth of July, the patronal 
feast of St. Vincent de Paul, 1854. 

Already the walls of the new academy were seen rising, 
majestic in proportions, far ahead of anything yet built in 
Kentucky. "Mother Catherine is a visionary," some said; 
"such immense halls are useless." But Mother Catherine 
went on. "Those rooms will all be filled and more will 
be needed," she replied. And so it came to pass. Now, 
every one wonders at the mind of the woman who, years 
ago, erected buildings that are still modern and up to date. 
This work was all completed in 1855. The following year, 
her last in office, she visited the branch houses, spending a 
week or more in each one. When the summer of 1856 
came, she laid down her burden of office, which Mother 
Frances took up again, and went back to her dear orphan 
asylum and to her labor of love among the homeless little 

In the first week of March, Mother Catherine heard that 
a poor laboring man had been hurt, and that his family was 
in great distress. Mother Catherine was not very well 
herself, and a light snow covered the ground. Neverthe- 
less, she went on this errand of mercy. Later, she took a 
violent cold and daily grew worse. She soon realized that 
her end was approaching, and she made ready for it with 
the calm resignation of one who had lived but to prepare 
for death. She repeatedly asked pardon of the sisters who 
surrounded her for any needless pain she might have given 
them; and in answer to their prayers for like forgiveness, 
she assured them that if they had caused her trouble at any 
time she had forgotten it and forgiven them with all her 


With the most lively sentiments of faith and love, she 
received the last Sacraments at the hands of the Reverend 
Father Coomes, the chaplain of the convent. The Right 
Reverend Bishop and the clergy of the city made her daily 
visits during her sickness, at each of which she besought 
their blessing and prayers. The Bishop gave her the last 
blessing with the plenary indulgence for the hour of death. 
From the beginning of this illness her sufferings had been 
great, but during her last hours they became excruciating. 
Yet she endured them with exemplary resignation. Unable 
to recline, she had to be supported in an upright position. 
In the final struggle, she asked to be laid on the floor, and 
in that humble attitude she died, on the twentieth of March, 
1858, in the sixty-fifth year of her age and the forty-seventh 
since the beginning of her religious life. She was loved and 
revered and mourned as only they can be whose lives have 
been wholly unselfish and who lived but for God and for His 
greater glory. In its flight upward, her soul was accompa- 
nied by the prayers of the innocent children to whom she 
had supplied the place of mother, and who loved to call her 
by that endearing tide. It was followed by the petitions of 
the religious, grown old in the service of God, whither she 
had led them. 

Her precious remains were taken to Nazareth for -inter- 
ment. They were accompanied by Mother Frances Gar- 
diner, who had been with her during her illness and by Sis- 
ters Appollonia McGill, Julia Hobbs, and Serena Carney, all 
of Louisville. A short distance from the mother house, the 
sad cortege was met by the whole community sisters, 
novices, and pupils, numbering fully three hundred. In 
solemn procession the body was carried to the door of the 
convent church she had but recently builded. Here it was 
received by the Right Reverend Martin J. Spalding, Bishop 
of the Diocese, the Reverend Joseph Hazeltine, Ecclesiasti- 
cal Superior of the Society, and by several other clergymen 


of Bardstown and the vicinity, who had assembled to per- 
form the last offices of religion over their departed friend, 
At the foot of the altar, one by one the sisters came to 
look once more on the features of their beloved Mother. 
Great was the grief of loving hearts that day at 
Nazareth ! 

After the services, the procession was again formed and 
the remains were taken to the little cemetery. When Bishop 
David was interred in these same grounds in 1841, Mother 
Catherine had expressed the desire to be buried at his feet 
Here she was placed, close to her revered father and guide, 
and surrounded by many whom she had cheered along life's 
way and whom she had solaced in their last hour before 
eternity claimed them. 

Bishop Spalding suggested that the stone at the head of 
her grave be a little taller than were those that marked the 
graves of the other members of the society, and that it bear 
a sunburst to indicate that she was first Superioress of 

Mother Catherine was not above medium height ; she was 
heavily built. Her eyes were deep blue so deep, indeed, 
that many carried away the impression that they were black. 
Her countenance was beautiful; it bore a very benevolent, 
motherly expression, but one read in it firmness and strong 
determination as well. 

She gave admonitions freely. Human respect was un- 
known to her, yet she was never rash and was always guided 
by a sense of duty. She had a peculiar way of removing 
the sting of rebuke, always closing the admonition by a few 
kind, encouraging words so that one felt urged to cheerful, 
renewed efforts. She knew how to forgive and forget; and 
when once a reproof had been given she never again referred 
to the fault that occasioned the admonition. She was al- 
ways ready to overlook faults, and hence was accounted at 
Nazareth as the best friend of all the "bad girls" in the. 


school. She took great pleasure in instructing the young 
sisters and insisted particularly on charity and love of the 
poor. She often quoted Bishop David, upon whom she 
looked as the pillar and ground of truth. Every word of 
instruction received from him formed part of her rule of 

It is no wonder, then, that the influence of such a woman 
was unbounded, and that she seemed able to move moun- 
tains in behalf of the works to which she had devoted her 
life. Many were the times that the resources at hand pre- 
vented the zeal of Mother Catherine to undertake greater 
works of charity and education. Then it was possible for 
her children to discern more clearly the sagacious direction 
their Mother had always given to the society. In the first 
days, the particular need was for leaders, capable of sturdy 
pioneer work; later the chief requirement was administrative 
ability. Mother Catherine was not only a great leader, but 
she was a wise and prudent financier. When her charity 
would urge her to do greater things for God and His peo- 
ple, her prudence told her to hope in Him first for the 
means whereby such accomplishments would be made pos- 
sible. Her heart always held generous dreams; but with 
the patience of great souls, she trusted the future to bless 
with an abundant harvest the least seed which she had sowed 
in the wildwood of Kentucky. 

Mother Catherine's outstanding virtue, perhaps, was her 
profound charity. Dear as Nazareth had become to her 
heart, constant as was her zeal for its growth and develop- 
ment in every direction, her delight was to be with those 
who made so particular an appeal to her maternal sym- 
pathies. Back and forth from the mother house to her 
orphan children she would go for a number of years, until 
the time when she went to remain with them the rest of her 
earthly days. This was after the expiration of her last 
term as Mother at Nazareth, at the beginning of which 
administration she wrote: "I came back from Louisville to 


take again a burden for which I am little suited and still less 
desired. My heart clings to the orphans and the sick whom 
I have to leave." 

True daughter of the great Saint Vincent was Catherine 
Spalding. She realized full well that for every Sister of 
Charity the care of the orphans is her chief and principal 
work. She remembered that this was the most dear to 
Vincent de Paul and the first Daughters of Charity. It was 
the particular labor that urged Mother Catherine to make 
long journeys from one place to another, and to gather into 
her protecting arms the forlorn little ones of the household 
of the Master. These trips were tedious ones, sometimes 
made on horseback, again by wagon or carriage, but always 
over well-nigh impassable roads, and very often through 
snow and sleet and pouring rains. Such arduous pil- 
grimages, however, she undertook with great happiness, 
and with an uncommon gratitude that she was being per- 
mitted to minister "unto the least of these," His little 

When the shadows of death began to steal into Mother 
Catherine's life she begged for the prayers of her spiritual 
daughters that her last journey would be made in peace 
and light, without fear and trembling. To a sister she 
wrote the following words, shortly before her death : 

Pray for me, my dear child, that God in His own 
good mercy may give rest to my poor soul in a 
better world; for in this life there had been but little 
rest for me and indeed we should not seek rest here, 
for here is the time for labor and sorrow. Now, my 
good Sister, do not be too particular with your poor 
Mother. You know how hard it is for me to write 
since I have suffered so much severe pain; I never ex- 
pect to be entirely well again . . . write to me when- 
ever you can. I am always, 

Your sincere friend and Mother, 


The spiritual support she ever gave to her daughters in 
religion stamps her as a truly great foundress. Beautiful, 
indeed, was her solicitude for their welfare. She yearned, 
constantly, to lighten their burdens, so that their strength 
might be sufficient for their service as good, efficient Sisters 
of Charity. Her letters to her daughters on the missions 
are not unlike the messages of the early Christians to one 
another. "Grace be unto you and peace I" she would write; 
and then counsels of spiritual advancement would usually 
follow. These early letters would always carry sweet urg- 
ings for a greater love and glorifying of Almighty God, by 
a practical service to His poor and abandoned. Virile power 
and maternal solicitude are contained therein; sometimes a 
vigorous encouragement to undertake a new and difficult 
task; again, with exquisite affection, the message that she 
was sending to some sister "a pair of soft gloves for your 
poor chapped hands." 8 

Mother Catherine knew what it meant to have the sup- 
port and encouragement of superiors. This she never 
denied the sisters whom God had placed under her direction. 
To one she writes : 

Rest assured you will always find in me a heart that 
will know how to sympathize with you in any difficul- 
ties a comfort which I never had in all that I had to 
encounter in establishing that house. If your heart 
beats friendly toward my dear orphans, be assured it is 
an additional claim you have on me, and an additional 
tie fully as strong as the one that binds us in the 
sacred bonds of Religion. If our good and venerable 
Bishop calls there, be sure to tell him from me that I 
wish him to give that place his special Benediction. 

And how expressive of her deep spirituality is the following 
note : 

8 McGill, op. cit. t New York, 1917, p. 75. 


But what will all that profit us, if we neglect the 
spiritual building of our own perfection? Poor human 
nature is apt to let every little thing interfere with 
regular attendance upon religious exercises and other 
observances. You are particularly blessed in that house 
as all your labors are for those immediate works of 
Charity. Then have courage, and still strive more 
and more to make spiritual and corporal works go 
together; and remember St. Vincent says : "If you keep 
your rules, they will keep you." Pray for me while 
I never forget any of you. 

St. Vincent once referred to his first sisterhood as the 
little snowball which gradually assumed such large propor- 
tions. Nazareth, likewise, has grown from a humble be- 
ginning to a noble congregation, that has stretched out 
from the hills of Kentucky to the Atlantic in the east and, 
in the west, almost to the waters of the Pacific. From the 
log cabin of 1812 and the school's first enrollment of nine 
pupils God's goodness has changed the picture to scores of 
buildings and thousands of little souls, the pride of the 
present generation of the sisterhood. Three abandoned 
children one afternoon found refuge in Mother Catherine's 
loving arms ; to-day hundreds of tender hearts mother thou- 
sands of motherless little ones. And while the work of 
teaching has been among the chief occupations of her spirit- 
ual daughters, whenever the call of suffering has been 
sounded the response has been immediate and generous. 
War and pestilence have found them ministering as angels 
of mercy to the sick and dying, in hospital ward and in army 
camp, in the homes of the poor and on the field of battle. 
And as their foundress experienced joy and consolation in 
the lowly domestic work of old St. Thomas 1 Seminary, 
many are her sisters who aspire to nothing higher than the 
humble posts of hidden usefulness in the community's insti- 
tutions. These are the real jewels of any sisterhood. They 


do willingly and cheerfully the all-important work which 
was forever ennobled by the Child Jesus and His own 
sweet mother in Nazareth of Galilee. The first Martha in 
Kentucky's Nazareth was Mother Catherine Spalding. 

"Caritas Christi urget nos" is the answer that from eter- 
nity Mother Spalding gives to those who marvel at her 
accomplishments. She placed herself in Christ's blessed 
hands as clay into the hands of the potter, permitting Him 
to shape her into a vessel of election. She in her wisdom 
knew that, in giving herself entirely to the Master, He in 
return would give Himself entirely to His servant. And 
during all the years she realized that she was secure, even 
when the clouds hung lowest and the rumblings of failure 
and blasted hopes were heard on an ever-darkening hori- 
zon. She felt His inspiration always, and knew that in her 
passing the seed of hfer sowing would fall to the ground 
and blossom forth in His own good time for His greater 
honor and glory. She believed that in her spiritual pos- 
terity there would then be accomplished to an heroic degree 
what St. Vincent himself had exclaimed on one occasion 
when addressing his sisters : 

If we could see the soul of a Sister of Charity who 
works for God, we should be rapt in admiration ; we 
should see it shining like the sun. We could not look 
at it without being dazzled. But we shall see it in 

To-day, God beholds more than a thousand white-capped 
Sisters of Charity, followers of His servant, the humble 
Catherine Spalding, carrying forward the work dropped 
from her toil-worn hands the day she passed into eternity. 
He sees their souls and the soul of their sainted Mother, 
shining like the sun. For those of us, however, who yet see 
darkly as through a glass, we niay not behold the dazzling 
splendor of this miracle of charity. But we are wrapt in 


admiration at the Godlike works these women of the pres- 
ent generation are doing. And from this contemplation we 
learn something of the greatness of this foundress, and 
catch a reflection of the glory which is hers forever. We 
shall look upon the full sublimity of its splendor in Paradise. 



Vovete et reddite Domino, "Vow ye and pay unto the 
Lord your God," a text from the Twenty-fifth Psalm, is the 
inscription to be found directly over the entrance door of 
the Georgetown Convent of the Visitation. To vow and 
then to pay unto the Lord I 

To vow, indeed, is one thing; but to pay that vow is 
quite another. Not only must the religious make her vows 
to God in the beginning of her spiritual life, but she must 
also pay them to Him by the giving of a constant lifelong 
service, until her soul lies bare before the judgment seat of 
God. Vovete et reddite Domino in these words the 
Georgetown Convent of the Visitation proclaims its nature 
and its mission : a house of vows and fulfilled promises. For 
over a century it has stood on the heights of Georgetown, 
just above the historic Potomac and the Virginian hills of 
Arlington beyond. Hundreds of brides of Christ have 
called it heaven and a home those wise women who have 
chosen the barbette and the silver cross, the long black veil 
and the conventual habit of a Visitandine Religious, as their 
trousseau for their marriage to the King. Venerable for 
holy deeds and holy lives, its early history is linked irre- 
vocably with the story of its sainted foundress and first 
superior, the humble Alice Lalor, she who, in religion, was 
Mother Teresa of the Heart of Mary. Ever since that 
day, when, with her two associates, she first climbed the 
heights of Georgetown 1 village to build close to the nation's 
future capital her institution of enduring usefulness, her 



days of fulfilled vows and redeemed promises have left their 
impress on the community, never to be effaced. Persons 
and places, round about, have all been changed in the course 
of years. But time can little touch the things that rest on 
God. Mother Teresa builded well. Her body rests be- 
neath the convent chapel, awaiting in peace and solitude 
the coming of her Savior; her love and gentleness to-day 
pervade the halls of old Georgetown as in the days of her 
earthly existence. Her vow of service made long years 
ago she continues to pay to her God in the existence of that 
blessed institution of her making. Its accomplishments to- 
day are but a continuation of that which she labored and 
suffered to inaugurate. Behind its walls and cloister grat- 
ings her work is going on with devoted earnestness; her 
ideals are being carried out with care and exactness. To 
her children of each generation she is a watchful mother, 
whose influence over their lives and actions is lasting and 
telling. Silent though she be in her well-earned rest and 
lowly repose, she is a living personality ; living, indeed, for 
"to live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to 
die." And Mother Teresa Lalor's place in the affections of 
her Visitandine Daughters throughout this whole land of 
ours cannot be questioned. For hers was a life which, un- 
der heaven, was most fruitful and blessed. Truly, indeed, 
was she one of America's greatest foundresses. 

Alice Lalor was born in Ballyragget, Kilkenny, about the 
year 1769. In her early home she saw unusual evidences 
of a great love between her father and her mother; this 
happy remembrance she treasured until the closing days of 
her life. Indeed, as the years went on and the home ties 
were broken by deaths and separations, both the memory of 
a father who often declared that he thought no woman 
living equal to her mother, and that of a maternal love and 
devotion so extraordinarily beautiful, continued to increase 
in intensity, until she seemed to live again with the loved 


ones of home who had gone on before her into the great 
land beyond the threshold. 

Alice Lalor's father was a sturdy Catholic gentleman of 
the old school. His hospitality was proverbial throughout 
the entire countryside; to priests and bishops, especially, he 
extended a whole-hearted welcome to the family hearth. 
His superior intelligence won for him the friendship of 
Lord Devessey, whose religious zeal prompted him to offer 
wealth and social rank to his host if the latter would be- 
come a member of the Established Church. He even en- 
gaged his brother, a minister of the Church of England, to 
carry on a series of theological discussions with Mr. Lalor, 
in the hopes of winning him to the Anglican religion. But 
Mr. Lalor was too good a Catholic for that. He could do 
nothing but spurn temporal prosperity, when its getting was 
conditioned by apostasy. 

Mrs. Lalor's solicitude was centered, especially, on her 
little daughter, Alice. The child's first tendencies toward 
piety were prudently cultivated by the mother, who was 
quick to discern in Alice a soul of rare quality. From the 
mother's lips the child first heard the words of eternal wis- 
dom. Her precociousness attracted attention when she was 
yet very young, and her unusual piety and her bright and 
cheerful disposition won for her the affection of her pastor, 
Father Carroll. From him she received the Bread of Life 
for the first time. Her admittance to the Holy Table at 
an age which was quite early for those days was accompa- 
nied by an extraordinarily sensible consolation. This sweet 
gift of her Eucharistic Lord was never withdrawn from 
Alice Lalor at any time during her whole life. Jesus in His 
Sacrament of love was for her not only the Bread of eternal 
life but the sweet reflection of her immortal soul. Lover 
of the Blessed Sacrament, indeed, was Alice Lalor. 

When at the age of seventeen the child received the sac- 
rament of Confirmation from Bishop Lanigan of Kilkenny, 


the prelate was attracted by her deep spirituality. To him 
she made a general confession and to his searchings she 
opened up the innermost recesses of her soul. Her piety 
and intelligence prompted him to select her as the prefect of 
the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament which, with the 
pastor, he established in her native parish. Father Carroll 
realized that he had been given a strong ally in keeping 
alive the spark of fervor lately kindled in his parish. Bishop 
Lanigan looked upon her as a future helpmate in the 
foundation of a community of Presentation Nuns in his 
diocese. He received from her a vow of chastity, made in 
the presence of the Blessed Sacrament; and as a token of 
her pledge he placed a ring upon her finger. Although 
complete renunciation of the world was not then practicable, 
as there was no convent in the neighborhood, she had re- 
solved to consecrate herself unreservedly to Almighty God. 

Family opposition to the project of the foundation of the 
bishop's community of Presentation Nuns proved a provi- 
dential obstacle. One of Alice Lalor's sisters had married 
an American merchant, a Mr. Doran, who wished his wife 
to have the companionship of her sister Alice, at least for 
a time. Alice, who was then thirty-one years of age, agreed 
to go with them to America, and sailed with her sister and 
brother-in-law in the winter of 1794. Before leaving, how- 
ever, she promised to return in two years, at which time 
she would aid in the foundation of the long-contemplated 
community. But another Bishop was destined to have her 
in his keeping and another country to profit by her labors. 

Among the passengers on the ship were two widows, 
women of wealth, culture, and education, a Mrs. McDer- 
mott and a Mrs. Sharpe, who formed an intimate friend- 
ship with. Alice Lalor. "Heart to heart speaketh," and 
soon they made known to one another that each was de- 
sirous of entering the religious life. On the eve of the 
Epiphany, 1795, when their ship was sighting land, they 


agreed that they would seek out a priest, and that priest, 
whoever he might be, they would regard as their spiritual 
director. On the Day of the Manifestation God led them 
to the Reverend Leonard Neale, one of the few priests 
laboring at that time in the city of Philadelphia. 

Like many another Maryland youth, Father Neale had 
been educated at the Jesuit College at St. Omers, in French 
Flanders. He was admitted into the Society of Jesus, Sep- 
tember 7, 1767. Thence he went to Bruges, and later to 
Liege, where he was ordained priest.. In 1773 he, as a 
Jesuit, fell under the mandates of the famous decree, 
"Dominus ac Redemptor" but though forced to lay aside 
the Jesuit habit, he retained the spirit of the Society. To- 
gether with the English Jesuits he went to England, where 
he engaged in pastoral work for four years. In response 
to his petition for foreign mission work, Propaganda as- 
signed him to Demarara, in British Guiana, South America, 
where he labored from 1779 to 1783. Broken in health 
and in spirit he returned to his native state, January, 1783, 
and in April of the same year associated himself with his 
former brethren of the Society of Jesus, among whom was 
the Reverend John Carroll, later Baltimore's first arch- 
bishop. When the only two priests in Philadelphia were 
stricken by the yellow fever that same year, Father Neale 
gladly took their place. For nearly six years he remained 
in the city, acting as Vicar-General to the then Bishop Car- 
roll of Baltimore. During Father Neale's stay in Phila- 
delphia many souls placed themselves under his direction. 
No greater lover of Jesus Christ came to him than Alice 

For some time Father Neale had visioned a community 
in the New World that might inaugurate the work of Chris- 
tian education carried on so successfully for centuries m 
the Old. The three penitents who were brought so unex- 
pectedly to his feet from beyond the sea seemed to him the 


women destined to cooperate with him in his proposed 

But Alice Lalor felt herself bound to return to Bishop 
Lanigan in Ireland, bound by the ring she wore on her 
finger since the time of her great decision before Jesus in 
the Blessed Sacrament, and bound by her promise to the 
bishop. Father Neale, however, realizing the greater serv- 
ice she could render religion in America, asked her to re- 
main. He showed her that she would not be revoking her 
vow but would be fulfilling it in a more complete manner in 
this new land where the Cross of Christ was raising itself, 
feebly and with difficulty, in the wildernesses and in the 
growing cities. The home ties were still drawing her to 
Ireland, however, not to those of kith and kin who were 
awaiting her return, but rather to those bound so irrevoc- 
ably by spiritual claims in the cradleland of her vocation. 
Father Neale, as her confessor, offered to dispense her from 
her promise to return. Perceiving her hesitancy and her 
great uneasiness, he said to her one day: "Let me see that 
ring, my child." The priest took the ring and, looking at 
its commemorative inscription, twisted it in two and threw 
the pieces away. She felt that she could not stand the pain 
caused by the severance of this last tie to her dear home- 
land and that great religious resolve made there many 
years before. But Father Neale's action, as he had in- 
tended, had destroyed this last reluctant cord which was 
threatening to draw her back to Ireland. With single pur- 
pose, then, she turned her eyes from the old home to the 
new, and with firm steps placed her feet in the pathway 
of her new determination to labor in her adopted country. 
This was a day of signal victory for the infant Church of 
God in the American Republic. 

At the suggestion of Father Neale, a little house was 
rented, wherein Miss Lalor and her two associates lived as 
a quasi-religious community. Mrs. Sharpe had her daugh- 


ter with her, a child of eight years ; and some time later a 
young American postulant was admitted. In addition to 
their spiritual exercises they performed works of mercy. 
That she might most thoroughly purify her heart for the 
service of God, Alice Lalor made frequent use of the disci- 
pline and engaged in rigorous fastings. Her health was 
not able to stand the extremes to which her zeal led her, 
however, and she was forced to moderate these practices 
at the command of Father Neale. The yellow fever soon 
thinned their slender ranks, and the head of the little com- 
munity found herself one night alone in the house with the 
body of her dead postulant. Father Neale, too, at this 
time almost died. But Alice Lalor and her two associates 
remained in the midst of the danger, ministering like angels 
of mercy to the dead and dying. 

In 1798 there occurred one of those providential events 
which are recorded in the lives of so many of God's chosen 
servants. At the time of their happening these events seem 
casual and unimportant, but in the retrospect it is often 
found that they change the whole current of one's career. 
This was especially true in the case of Alice Lalor. In 
1799 Father Neale became president of Georgetown Col- 
lege. Realizing the help his three religious friends could 
give him in his new field of labor, he bade them come to 
Georgetown, where he housed them for a time with three 
Poor Clares who, being driven from France by the Revo- 
lution in 1793, had founded a little convent near the college. 
The Poor Clares were at this time endeavoring to conduct 
a school as a means of support; but their poverty and their 
rigorous life made the continuance of this venture an im- 
possibility. For some time Alice Lalor and her two friends 
assisted the Poor Clares in teaching the school, and in this 
way became acquainted with the rule of St. Clare and 
found out, likewise, that it was not the one they wished to 
adopt. They felt, too, that with it they could not meet the 


needs of the times nor the locality. Father Neale, there- 
fore, purchased a house in the vicinity and gave it to them. 
Thus was begun an establishment which to the world ap- 
peared a folly hut in reality was dear to religion and later 
a glory to the Church in America. The shabby little build- 
ing was formally opened June 24, 1799, when classes were 
commenced by three zealous teachers, who soon became 
known as "The Pious Ladies," their only appellation for 
many years. Pious indeed they were, and ladies too. But 
their natural gentility was further augmented by the intense 
spiritual life they led under the direction of Father Neale. 
He was their spiritual father and their novice master; he 
initiated them into the secrets of the mystic ways. Prayer 
was supplemented by austerities terrifying to those of a less 
heroic mold. To them the privations entailed by necessity 
were as nothing; and only the prudent restraint of obedience 
saved their rapidly failing health. In his establishment 
and guidance of the little band, Father Neale felt he was 
but realizing the ideals of his young days in the priesthood. 
It is related that while he was in far-off Demarara, he had 
had one of those strange dreams not unfrequent in the lives 
of the saints. St. Francis de Sales, so it seems, had ap- 
peared to him and told him he was to establish a commu- 
nity of Visitation Nuns. The how and the where and the 
when remained unknown. But as the years went on, events 
gradually shaped themselves so as to make Father Neale 
feel sure that Alice Lalor, like another Jane Frances de 
Chantal, was to be the mother of this band of "noble 
women not a few" ; and in her he was not to be disappointed. 
In 1800 Father Neale was consecrated coadjutor to 
Archbishop Carroll. As he was to continue as president of 
Georgetown College he did not remove to Baltimore. 
Hence he was able to assume his duties as novice master 
for the new sisterhood. It is not known just when he 
decided to place the sisters under the Visitation rule, 


but there is the tradition in the community that very early 
in its history there was a consciousness that the sisters were 
Visitandines, at least in spirit and in desire. But knowing 
nothing of the rule of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop Neale 
regulated the life of the sisters to a modified form of the 
rules of the Society of Jesus. The sisters had regular 
hours for rising; they assembled for morning prayers, for 
meditation, and for Mass in the Poor Clares' chapel; time 
was assigned for reading, for silence, and for an examen 
of conscience. They had their evening prayers in common; 
they recited the rosary daily; they had their fasts and their 
mortifications. Taken all in all they were living a truly 
conventual life. 

When the sisters opened their school at Georgetown, the 
joy of the Catholics of the neighborhood knew no bounds, 
and as an evidence of their appreciation they cooperated 
whole-heartedly with the sisters in the venture. The little 
group of religious was increased from three to five. They 
kept as much as possible within their own premises so that 
enclosure could be observed, at least in part. But they had 
to do their own marketing; it was necessary for them to go 
out to church ; and it was one of their duties to accompany 
their pupils in daily walks in the surrounding woods. It 
was a simple beginning, indeed, but one that presaged well 
for the things that were to follow. 

But unless the grain of wheat falling to the ground die, 
itself remaineth alone. The grain of wheat here planted 
was not destined to remain alone. Death came and claimed 
its first victim, in the person of one whom they could ill 
afford to lose. After a painful illness, Mrs. Sharpe, known 
in religion as Sister Ignatia, their principal teacher and 
first directress of the academy, died July 31, 1802. "She 
was the soul and head of the little academy," said the com- 
munity annalist. "It prospered as long as she was able to 
conduct it." Having no grounds of their own, the sisters 


reluctantly laid her to rest in the public cemetery of Trin- 
ity Church, Georgetown, D. C. Her passing caused great 
distress in her religious family, but no one felt the loss more 
keenly than did Alice Lalor, now known as Mother Teresa. 
But none was more resigned. 

The ranks were soon increased, however, by the advent 
of Miss Henrietta Brent, a grandniece of Bishop Neale. 
New members were not slow in following, and the best 
families in the country became represented in the commu- 
nity. Comfortable homes and devoted relatives were re- 
linquished willingly for a life of want and abnegation. 
Those were days, indeed, when virtue ran high and love 
waxed warm. The cold without was more than counter- 
acted by the love within. When Lady Poverty would allow 
only a few sticks of wood for light and heat, the long, 
dreary winter evenings were brightened by the wit and 
humor of Mother Teresa. Her naturally cheerful disposi- 
tion never failed her; often a pleasant story from her re- 
lieved a painful situation. 

It is recorded x that at this time : 

everything at the Nunnery and school bore the impress 
of extreme poverty. Provisions were dealt out by 
measure ; only a fixed quantity of food or fuel for each 
person or place. Wheat bread was never seen there. 
Corn bread was used, made from corn which the sisters 
themselves had raised, and had husked and shelled be- 
fore sending it to the mill to be ground. They cleaned, 
salted, and put up their own fish and meat; grew all 
their own vegetables, and for that purpose kept a fine 
garden, the heavier work of which was done by their 
negro man or men, the lighter by themselves. 

Butter was rarely a part of their diet; and when 

1 Lathrop, A Story of Courage: Annals of the Georgetown Convent of the 
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1895, 
p. 156 et seq. 


this luxury could be allowed at all, it was carefully dis- 
tributed in small pieces one piece at the plate of each 
sister or child. Their coarse corn bread was divided 
in the same careful manner a single slice to each 
person; and if any one found this insufficient, she had 
to endure the lack of more. In the sketch of the life 
of Mother Juliana Matthews it is related that, being 
Refectorian and at one time Dispenser, she had charge 
of giving out the provisions, and that while carrying 
around the bread basket before meals she often felt 
tempted to pick out a specially large slice for herself. 
To avoid all fault or inequality in the matter she used 
to shut her eyes and take whatever bit of bread her 
hand chanced upon. Sister Agnes did the same thing. 
"Yet," she was wont to add, laughing, when she told 
of it, "it never entered my mind that this stinted fare 
was occasioned by necessity. I thought it entirely 
voluntary and suggested by a desire of practicing holy 

In winter, the Dispenser was obliged to stand in the 
cold while the sisters were getting their appointed sup- 
ply of fuel for the ensuing day. When there was 
snow on the ground, she stood on a log in order to 
keep her feet dry, and watched the others as they took, 
each one, the quantity allowed for her apartment or 
office. Four sticks of wood each day were given for 
the large assembly-room stove. For the small stoves 
six or eight smaller pieces were set apart. If coal 
was burned, two scuttles made the daily portion. The 
bedclothes of the plain couches on which the sisters 
slept were too scanty to keep them warm. Through 
the crevices of their rough, unplastered board-walled 
dormitory the snow blew in freely; so that the floor 
and the very beds were often covered with little snow- 
drifts. The beds, at the best, were narrow cots of 
straw; but most of the sisters slept on the floor, being 
obliged to give up their cots to the children. So con- 
stant and severe was their exposure to the cold, that 


their hands frequently became purple and swollen, the 
skin cracking open with the frost. 

Their breakfast and supper these days consisted 
only of a cup of rye coffee or of milk and water, with 
the ever-constant single slice of corn bread already 
mentioned. At dinner a spoonful of molasses by way 
of dessert, after the salt fish or meat and vegetables, 
was sometimes granted as a special dainty on the 
occasion of grand festivals, and was highly esteemed. 
They also saved the parings and cores of apples, and 
by boiling these prepared a sweetish drink with which 
to vary their simple list of beverages. Each sister 
was provided with a tin cup and a pewter spoon for 
use at table, besides a tin basin and pitcher in the 

For brooms they used weeds ; or, rather, they man- 
ufactured very good brooms out of a particular kind 
of weed. They did not even make a pretence of in- 
dulging in chairs; only one chair was to be seen in 
their assembly room, and that one was reserved for 
Mother Teresa. The other sisters sat on trunks or 
chests, which completed the furniture of the apart- 
ment. In the evenings when they gathered together 
for recreation the room was illuminated by a "save- 
all"; that is, a vessel filled with grease from the pot 
skimmings of the kitchen. Yet not even this was used 
on moonlight nights; and if, at any time when the 
"save-all" was burning, the supply of grease that sup- 
ported it gave out suddenly, the sisters contentedly sat 
in darkness or enjoyed the faint glimmer of the fire- 
light. When this accident happened on Saturday 
nights, and any one of the sisters had a rent to draw 
up or some stitches to take in her severely tried wear- 
ing apparel, she lit a pine-knot reserved for such emer- 
gencies. No one thought of keeping a lamp for her 
private use; and the solitary candle used in the con- 
vent was burned only in the choir. 

But during all the years that this condition of things 


continued, no word of complaint was ever heard. On 
the contrary, the sisters were very gay, and made 
merry over the shifts and inventions to which they 
were driven by their poverty; the absurd conduct of 
their "save-all" in relapsing into darkness just when 
it was most needed, was sure to bring out hearty 

Like St. Jane de Chantal, Mother Teresa was sure 
to be most cheerful when circumstances were most ap- 
palling. She literally shone joyously beneath a burden 
of discomfort. If starvation threatened, and even 
mouldy bread became too precious, Mother Teresa's 
gayety changed the sisters' hunger to cheerfulness. If 
the "save-all" refused to dispel darkness, her amusing 
tales and anecdotes introduced a brilliancy which left 
nothing to be desired. At last the sisters used to say, 
when their Mother was particularly genial with inno- 
cent entertainment: "Ah, she has something to tell us 
which will give us pain, and is trying to raise our 
courage first 1" All this extreme privation was not 
intended by the rule; the nuns were entitled to better 
fare. However, they remained the victims of such dis- 
tress, and moreover, happy ones. 

There were, at this time, thirteen pupils in the 
school; children delicately reared, to whom the pri- 
vations and severities of life under these circumstances 
offered a Spartan ordeal. Yet they flourished under 
it, and became strong and hardy; in this respect pre- 
figuring the growth and strength that the school and 
convent were to attain. The advances made in the 
beginning, however, were very slow. The little sister- 
hood was not yet assimilated to the Visitation, or to 
any religious order, whatsoever. It was obliged to 
remain thus informally or partially organized for 
years, often in doubt as to whether it would be able to 
cohere at all, and constantly enduring the hardest 
of work, the most meagre of fare, the severest 


When, in 1804, the Poor Clares returned to France, 
Mother Teresa managed to secure a sufficient sum to pur- 
chase the former Clarist Convent. Father Neale paid for 
the simple altar, what little furniture there was in the house, 
and the library of French books. For a time the sisters 
attended Mass in the Jesuit college chapel; later the Clarist 
altar was placed in the largest room of the academy; and 
finally it was moved to the building which had served the 
Poor Clares as their convent. At last, "The Pious Ladies" 
began to enjoy some kind of monastic enclosure in their 
sequestered quarters on the heights of Georgetown. The 
convent and academy occupied a square of roughly culti- 
vated ground, through which ran from north to south a 
creek that emptied into the Potomac at the foot of the hill. 
On the eastern side lay the convent garden, orchard, and 
meadow, the convent itself and the house to which Bishop 
Neale had moved in 1808, when his term as president of 
the college expired. On the west the land rose in a series 
of steep terraces, which were beautified by raspberry 
bushes, lilacs, and other shrubbery. Here, too, stood the 
"Old Academy," the house to which Mother Teresa had 
come when, in the earlier days, she had withdrawn from the 
Poor Clares. At first there was no bridge across the creek, 
and difficult was the task, impossible quite often, of passing 
to and from the convent and the academy. Afterward a rus- 
tic bridge was built to span the stream, and at least one of 
the hardships of the early days was eliminated by this 

Only four postulants came to Mother Teresa during her 
first nine years at Georgetown. In 1808, Miss Catherine 
Anne Rigden, a convert and a native of Georgetown, and 
the one destined to be, ten years later, Mother Teresa's 
successor, entered the community. But after this no one 
sought admission for two years. While the prospect of 
any increase in the little religious institute seemed hope- 


less, Mother Teresa, however, was always hopeful. Her 
trust in God raised her infinitely above the threatenings of 
her earthly surroundings. The period of stagnation was 
finally broken in the midwinter of 1810, when a nineteen- 
year-old stranger, Margaret Marshall, by name, came from 
Conewago, Pennsylvania, and asked to be admitted as a 
postulant. Soon other members came, valiant women all, to 
cast their lot with the heroic little band on the Potomac. 
God's eye had never left Mother Teresa in all those years 
of trial and ordeals; He was but fitting her for the mystic 
motherhood that was to be hers as first Visitandine Superi- 
oress in the United States. 

Repeatedly, Bishop Neale had been urged to change the 
character of his institute. He had always desired to have 
it a house of the Visitation, but to this end he could not 
realize even the possession of the rules of the Order. The 
first house at Annecy had been suppressed during the French 
Revolution, and was not restored until 1822. The other 
houses in Europe refused to send a copy of the Constitutions 
to Georgetown because this community had not been founded 
in the regular way, by professed members of the Order. 

Well-meaning friends had pointed out the uselessness of 
continuing the institute as a Visitation community, when it 
was that only in name. First, Archbishop Carroll urged 
Bishop Neale to merge it in another enterprise to which 
the former had given his whole-hearted support the 
foundation of the first Catholic school for girls in the city 
of Baltimore, by Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton; again, a 
Baltimore woman of wealth who had been educated by the 
Ursuline Nuns in Ireland wished to see "The Pious Ladies" 
transform their institute into an Ursuline Convent. She 
volunteered to go to Ireland and to return with a colony 
of these sisters to aid in the work of establishment, offering 
to pay all expenses incidental to the journey and promising 
to provide additional funds to carry on the work. Other 


advisers tried to persuade the Bishop into uniting his sister- 
hood with that of the Carmelite Nuns who had been estab- 
lished by his brother at Port Tobacco, Maryland. But to 
all these urgings Bishop Neale turned a deaf ear. He 
could never consent to any change from his cherished plan 
of founding a house of the Visitation; this idea was too 
firmly planted in his mind to be uprooted. He had gone too 
far on the pathway of the gentle saint of Geneva to be 
turned into another, however worthy or noble it might be. 

Mother Teresa, too, shared in the forebodings of disas- 
ter which the future seemed to have in store for her insti- 
tute ; but finally a ray of genuine and lasting sunshine burst 
upon the simple household. Among the books of the small 
library acquired from the Poor Clares, there was found a 
volume containing the rules of the Visitation Order. During 
all these years it had been in their midst, neglected, of 
course, because none of the sisters of that day were able to 
read French. There is no exact record of the time or the 
manner .of the discovery, but it is sufficient to say that its 
finding caused untold happiness and satisfaction; that for 
which they had sought so long and prayed so earnestly was 
at last theirs to keep and follow. From an examination of 
the book, the sisters soon discovered that in their eagerness 
to create for themselves a monastic rule, they had been prac- 
ticing more rigorous austerities than the Visitandine Consti- 
tutions required. Generous, indeed, were the first American 
daughters of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal 1 

The rules in their possession, the sisters now needed but 
the habit of the order. They were then wearing a quasi- 
conventual dress, which on a number of occasions had been 
modified without satisfaction. Finally, Bishop Neale de- 
cided to give to them the Carmelite habit, as worn by the 
sisters of his brother's community at Port Tobacco. While 
the habit adopted was mainly Carmelite, it had one differ- 
ence. In the rules of the Visitation the sisters had found 


that u the bandeaux shall be black," and so the white ban- 
deau of the Carmelites gave place to the black of the Visita- 
tion. In this detail only were the Georgetown Sisters per- 
mitted to conform to Visitation requirements. 

The sisters were allowed to pronounce 'the simple vows 
of religion, January 29, 1814, the Feast of St. Francis de 
Sales. Since they had not as yet obtained the custom book 
and ceremonial of the Visitation Order, this ceremony was 
conducted according to Jesuit style. Some time afterward 
they were able to adopt the full Visitation habit, for Bishop 
Neale had received a picture of St. Jane Frances de Chantal 
from Europe. Their poverty, however, prevented them 
from providing a new supply of guimpes, so they agreed 
that for the present Mother Teresa alone should be given 
the distinction of wearing the correct Visitandine headdress. 

Bishop Neale succeeded to the archbishopric of Balti- 
more upon the death of the venerable John Carroll in 1815. 
For six years before he had struggled on with his little 
community, striving in vain, so it seemed, to establish rela- 
tions with the Visitation Order in Europe. Up to this 
time no recourse in the matter had been made to the Pope, 
but in 1815, as chief shepherd of the souls within his vast 
diocese, it was the Archbishop's duty to report in full what 
he had done toward forming a sisterhood in his archdio- 
cese. In reply, Pius VII sent him a brief, dated July 14, 
1816, commending his zeal, and permitting the American 
children of St. Francis de Sales to take the solemn vows of 
religion. Great was the joy those days in old Georgetown I 
December 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, was the date 
of Mother Teresa's admittance to solemn vows. It was 
also the hundred and ninety-fourth anniversary of the 
death of St. Francis de Sales! "At an early hour," says 
the convent annalist, "the little conventual world was astir. 
Long before day, while the stars were still glimmering in 
the winter sky, the community knelt before the chapel altar, 


in meditation." It was the hundred and ninety-fourth 
anniversary of St. Francis de Sales' entrance into Heaven; 
and they were ahout to celebrate and sanctify the day in a 
manner most acceptable to their holy founder, concurring 
in a work assigned by himself to their venerable archbishop 
the establishment of his order in the New World. After 
an hour or so, the archbishop entered, accompanied by 
Father Grassi, Provincial of the Jesuits. Archbishop Neale 
was the celebrant and Father Grassi made the responses. 
No one was present except the sisters and pupils, for they 
lived totally forgetful of, and forgotten by, the world. 
Seldom was their retirement intruded upon by secular visits; 
so that beyond their enclosure nothing was known of an 
event so interesting and important to them. Mother Agnes 
says the day was intensely cold, the ground was covered 
with snow, and it was Saturday. After breakfast Arch- 
bishop Neale and Father Grassi visited the sisters in the 
assembly room, congratulating them upon their happiness. 
The archbishop told them that now like holy Simeon he 
could sing his "Nunc dimittis" since his eyes had beheld 
what they so long had desired to see. Prophetic words, 
indeed, were these, for in less than six months the arch- 
bishop had passed to his eternal rest. 

Christmastide this year had been a season of unusual 
rejoicing. The seventeen years of trial and sacrifices on 
the part of the sisters, and especially on that of Mother 
Teresa, had passed into this time of triumphant accom- 
plishment. To Annecy in France, the Visitandine sainte 
source, the archbishop had written that "existence and life 
had been imparted" to the first established community in 
America of the order founded by St. Francis de Sales. The 
old Carmelite dress remained in use until the pattern of the 
true Visitandine habit came from Europe, shortly following 
the death of the archbishop, who was not given this added 
joy of seeing the full Visitation habit worn by his George- 


town daughters. But what he had seen accomplished justi- 
fied his other words to Annecy: "Thus is this house fairly 
established to run its course, which I hope will never be 
interrupted but by the cessation of time." 

Several months of unalloyed spiritual peace and joy 
followed for Mother Teresa, only to be broken by what 
was, perhaps, the greatest trial of her life the death of 
the archbishop on Wednesday, June 18, 1817. The last 
days of the archbishop were peaceful and his closing hours 
were passed in prayer and close union with God. He was 
privileged to receive the last sacraments from the hands 
of Father Grassi, in the presence of his own brother, 
Charles, and several priests and brothers of the Society of 
Jesus. He died in the little house adjoining the convent 
chapel, where he had resided after his resignation as presi- 
dent of Georgetown College, that he might be nearer the 
sisters. His duties as the second Archbishop of Baltimore 
had never interfered with his solicitude for the spiritual and 
temporal welfare of the sisters. He was their father, their 
friend, their all ; he knew every fold of their heart. Under 
his spiritual direction they felt safe, and his death left them 
orphans, indeed. At first it was almost impossible to fill 
his place. For a short time his brother, Francis, became 
the spiritual father of the community, but he was a semi- 
invalid, and a second stroke of paralysis rendered it im- 
possible for him to continue his ministrations. The Jesuits 
at Georgetown College were unwilling at the time to assume 
the direction of the sisterhood. "Of real orphanage," does 
one of the community annalists describe the state of affairs 
at the Georgetown convent following the departure of 
Father Neale. 

But for the sake of Christ the sisters were willing to share 
in those sufferings of Christ caused by abandonment and 
neglect. They lacked even the bare necessities of life. The 
prophets of ill, who are always about when God's work 


looks most hopeless, joined hands with those whose help 
was withdrawn in this hour of greatest need. But Mother 
Teresa and his sisters had long ago placed their hands in 
God's and had sealed their hearts against the world and 
its recall. And just when trials severe and numerous had 
almost crushed their devoted hearts, hope was born again, 
and the depression of their mere human spirits was lifted 
by him who came to their relief. This was Father Joseph 
P. de Cloriviere who had been invited by Archbishop Neale, 
shortly before the latter's death, to undertake the direction 
of the Georgetown community. 

After eighteen months of anxious waiting, the sisters 
welcomed Father Cloriviere to their shabby accommoda- 
tions on January 19, 1819, little realizing that in the young 
French nobleman they would find a second founder and 
father. Highly educated and of unusual talents, Monsieur 
de Cloriviere, at the age of twenty-five years, had become 
engaged to a young lady of Versailles. But the French 
Revolution breaking out frustrated his plans, and after 
Napoleon's election he was implicated in a plot to assassi- 
nate the First Consul. The plan proved futile, many arrests 
were made, and young de Cloriviere, fearing for his life, 
sailed for America. In the new land, adversity turned his 
soul to God and he decided to enter the priesthood. After 
the usual preparatory studies at St. Mary's Seminary, Balti- 
more, he was ordained in 1812, shortly afterwards being 
assigned by Archbishop Carroll to the difficult post of 
Charleston, South Carolina, a section of the country then 
torn asunder by political and religious strife. There the 
priest's life was more than once threatened. He strove in 
vain to establish religious peace, but failing in this he 
appealed to Archbishop Carroll, who in reply encouraged 
him to remain at his post, thinking that in^time the priest 
would win over his opponents. But the discord still con- 
tinued, and when Archbishop Neale succeeded to the see of 


Baltimore in 1815, Father Cloriviere again presented his 
case. In answer the archbishop advised his coming to the 
little convent in Georgetown. Archbishop Neale knew his 
man, for a more providential choice could not have been 
made. Father Cloriviere shared his bounty with the sisters; 
once he saw their needs, he set about to relieve them. 

With Mother Teresa, the new director began to 
strengthen the academy curriculum and to inaugurate a 
course of a special training for the younger sisters of the 
community. Thus was laid the foundation of that efficient 
instruction which has ever since characterized the George- 
town Visitation Convent. In 1826 he established a free 
school for girls, where Mother Teresa sent her spiritual 
daughters to teach. Here the sisters labored for almost a 
hundred years in the cause of Catholic elementary educa- 
tion. The Visitation Nuns of Georgetown have a signifi- 
cant place in the history of the parochial-school system in 
the United States. 

Mother Teresa's joy was great when, on the feast of 
All Saints, 1821, the present conventual chapel was conse- 
crated by the Very Reverend Jean Tessier, Superior of 
the Society of St. Sulpice, and Vicar-General to the Most 
Reverend Ambrose Marechal, Archbishop Neale's successor 
in the See of Baltimore. The erection of the church was 
made possible by the generosity of the saintly chaplain, for 
he devoted his entire fortune to its building and its fur- 
nishings. Mother Teresa and her sisters, however, were 
to receive the continued assistance of this priest for only 
seven years, for he died on the feast of St. Michael, in 1827. 
Those years, however, were sufficiently long to leave an 
indelible impression on the community. Father Cloriviere 
is regarded by the sisters as their second father and founder, 
to whom they owe their intellectual uplifting, their chapel 
and their odeon, their monastery and their gardens. 

For Mother Teresa, life's shadows were now lengthen- 


ing. In 1819, under Archbishop Marechal, she was present 
at the first canonical visit made to the convent. On the 
twenty-seventh of May of that year, after almost twenty 
years of superiorship, she relinquished the reins of govern- 
ment into the hands of Sister Catherine Rigden, who had 
entered the community in 1808, the sixth postulant to gain 
admittance. Shortly after her profession Sister Catherine 
had been made directress of studies, and in this capacity 
she had gained many hearts among the pupils of the acad- 
emy. Following her example, a number of these girls had 
passed from the classroom to the novitiate. Great things 
were hoped from her when she was elected Superior, but 
God ordained otherwise. The heart of Mother Teresa 
suffered a hard wrench when she saw the health of the young 
Superioress rapidly decline; it was crushed when the end 
came December 21, 1820. The third Superioress of the 
community was Sister Mary de Sales Neale, a relative of 
the venerated archbishop. Her nature and judgment 
seemed to fit her for the post, but her humility made her 
feel quite unequal to the responsibility and at her own re- 
quest she was deposed. Sister Agnes Brent, also a relative 
of Archbishop Neale, was then elected as Superioress in 
1821. As she was only twenty-five years of age, it was 
necessary to obtain a special dispensation in order for her 
to accept the office. 

Probably no more striking lesson in humility can be read 
in the lives of the saints than that given by Mother Teresa 
Lalor, bowing in loyal submission to this young Superior 
whom, as a mere child, she had received into the commu- 
nity, and whose first steps in the religious life she had care- 
fully guided. Unlike most foundresses, Mother Teresa 
Lalor did not live and die in office; and therein lies much of 
her magnanimity. Hers was a masterful spirit, born for 
leadership. She was great during the pioneer days when, 
for well-nigh twenty years, her word was law in the nascent 


community; but she was heroic during her twenty-seven years 
of submission and obedience. 

Tn 1826 Mother Teresa welcomed the three sisters who 
came from France at the suggestion of Father Michael 
Wheeler, the new spiritual director, to teach the American 
sisters some of the minor points of the rule. Father 
Wheeler, a Sulpician of Baltimore, who had succeeded 
Father Cloriviere, will always be remembered by the 
Georgetown Visitandines as one of their greatest benefac- 
tors. In a circular letter, issued September 8, 1828, the 
sisters declared that it was due to Father Wheeler's impetus 
that the academy was assuming a national character. Not 
only was he instrumental in securing the incorporation of 
the sisterhood, effected by an act of Congress, dated May 
24, 1828, but under his direction, too, the number of sis- 
ters was greatly increased. Due to his energy, likewise, 
foundations were made; the first in Mobile, January 29, 
1832, and the second in Baltimore, November 13, 1837. 

The going of the sisters to these new houses caused the 
maternal heart of Mother Teresa a momentary sorrow, but 
it was quick in passing; her soul rejoiced in the knowledge 
that new work was being undertaken for the Master. As 
the years slipped by, like another St. Jane Frances, she saw 
pass out of her life many of those most dear to her heart. 
On October 26, 1820, she knelt at the bier of Sister Frances 
McDermott, her faithful companion for twenty-one years. 
And then one by one they went, some summoned by death, 
others to farther fields of a ripening harvest. The seed was 
being scattered, it is true, yet she could not help but look 
back on the days of old. The vacant places did not cause 
her sadness, however, nor did the absence of the loved ones 
bring on melancholy; her vision now was reaching out to 
them on shores eternal. She was gazing into the glory 
that lies beyond the sunset. 

The greatest figures in the early history of the Church 


in America were among the admirers of Mother Teresa. 
She could claim a Marechal and a Cheverus, a Fenwick and 
a Flaget, a Du Bourg and a Brute, an England and an 
Egan. Archbishop Carroll was wont to often partake of 
her proverbial hospitality when, upon his numerous visits 
to Georgetown College, she would prepare his meals with 
her own hands. Archbishop Eccleston referred to her as 
his "old relic" ; and when the close of her life came he was 
near her to bestow upon his faithful servant the riches of 
the Holy Church she had so long served. 

The faith and loyalty of her own being Mother Teresa 
seemed to transmit to her spiritual daughters. Her fidelity 
to her own vocation was unfaltering. It was her greatest 
consolation to see, even in the days of their direst poverty 
and greatest trials, that there was seldom a defection in 
the ranks of the sisterhood. Constans in fide et in 

Obedience, to Mother Teresa, was second nature. She 
learned to obey in distant Ireland, at her mother's knee. 
She obeyed faithfully each whispering of the Holy Spirit 
in all the years that followed. When her heart would have 
taken her back to the homeland and to Bishop Lanigan, the 
voice of her spiritual director decided for her an adopted 
country and an uncertain future. Later, in sweet simplicity 
of heart, she gave herself, unreservedly, into the hands of 
those who had followed her in the office and duties of 
spiritual motherhood. With her as a subject it was not 
difficult for subsequent Superiors to guide the community. 

Prudence, the concomitant of every virtue, was remark- 
able in Mother Teresa. From her deposition until her 
death she was counselor and Superior's aid. For this end 
she was well fitted by the guard she kept over her tongue. 
"What ruin follows a tongue that knows no restraint or 
prudent bounds!" she would exclaim. "It wounds on all 
sides, and the wounds which it inflicts bleed for a long 


time. Weigh well what you say, since evil may result 

But above and beyond all, charity in her soul was queen; 
and, according to the words of St. Francis de Sales, all 
other virtues followed in its train. On November 21, 1843, 
when Mother Teresa was renewing her vows, Archbishop 
Eccleston noticed that she inadvertently said charity instead 
of chastity. Afterward he laughingly mentioned it to her. 
"God saw," she replied, "how greatly I needed it." "Char- 
ity/ 1 she would often say, "should be the principal virtue 
that animates a religious soul, and without it all her exer- 
cises of piety and acts of self-denial are without merit 
before God." 

During the lingering days of her last illness she frequently 
said her life seemed but a dream. A dream it might have 
seemed, but it was a life not of "such stuff as dreams are 
made on." Did not the years pass in vision before her 
with all their sufferings and their trials? Did she not re- 
member her virginal ring broken in twain? With it she 
had plighted her troth. Did she not recall the days of priva- 
tion and spirit-breaking suspense of early Georgetown? 
"The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?" In pain 
and anguish she had labored in her mystic motherhood that 
other souls she might bring forth in Christ. Sufferings su- 
preme, indeed, were these ! Did she not remember ? No I 
For during all the years she had gone into the Tabernacle, 
and* had adored in the place where His feet stood. And 
here under this inexplicable wealth of divine love her soul 
had overflowed with a sweetness not of this earth; with a 
consolation so great that its remembrance filled her with 
inexpressible delights. Some of it she had experienced even 
in far-off Ireland, when her Divine Lord came to her for 
the first time in the Sacrament of His love. And in the 
long years that came after, custom and routine with her 
dulled not the edge of feeling. The fruit she had derived 


was to feel more drawn away from the earth and all the 
sorrows it had given her, to pant after the Celestial Coun- 
try and eternal joys. "If, O Lord, Thou dealest with us 
thus in our exile, what wilt Thou give unto us in our 

It was an early autumn morning, September 9, 1846, 
that God called Mother Teresa to her Home. And as her 
soul passed over the lintels of the Presence Gate, she real- 
ized that for her, too, God had spread out the fields of 



IN the ripening grain of a Galilean harvest field Christ 
saw figured the souls of His elect in every age. Some souls 
He finds ready to His hand, and without apparent prepara- 
tion He makes use of them for the interests of the Church, 
as once He plucked the ears of corn to feed His hungering 
twelve. Other favored souls are chosen among thousands, 
like the grains of wheat that are blessed, broken, and 
changed into His very Self before He gives them to the 
world. Still others, called to the apostolate of prayer and 
work and sacrifice, He sows in new fields where they fall to 
the ground and die before they bring forth fruit, a hundred- 
fold. On this last type was the "valiant woman," Mother 
Philippine Duchesne. 

Rose Philippine Duchesne was born on August 29, 1769, 
in France, in the picturesque city of Grenoble, whose citadels 
frown on the smiling waters of the River Isere. A narrow 
street separated the Duchesne home from the Church of St. 
Andre, where for many centuries had lain the body of 
Bayard, the knight sans peur et sans reproche. Although 
the little Rose Philippine was to rival and surpass him in 
fearlessness and blamelessness of life, it was not there but 
in the Church of St. Louis that she received baptism. Her 
father, Pierre Francois, made no delay in giving her the 
patrimony of indomitable strength and unbending will; her 
mother trained her to piety and tried to temper her virile 
qualities with gentle sympathy that came of ministering 
to the poor. 

Few incidents are remembered of the early years of her, 




whose serious turn of mind left little room for childish 
escapades. At the age of twelve Philippine went up the 
hills of Grenoble to the Visitation Convent of Ste. Marie 
d'en Haut. Its corner stone had been laid by St. Francis de 
Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, and in its chapel the holy 
foundress had heard the words that told her that the soul 
of her director and friend had returned to God, Within 
those monastic walls Philippine grew daily in the fear of 
God and the horror of sin. There her soul, so susceptible 
to piety, became enthralled by the devotion to the Sacred 
Heart, the carefully guarded heritage of the Visitandines. 
In their house Philippine received her Lord for the first 
time and knew that He called her to His service. There, 
too, was sounded the note of another call ; for she listened 
with increasing interest to stories about the Indians as told 
by a Jesuit missionary who had preached the Gospel in 
Louisiana. She longed to labor for souls in far-off lands, 
and God who inspired the longing was preparing the seed 
disappointments were to be the means of the ripening. 

Philippines years as a happy child of Ste. Marie were 
suddenly brought to a close. Her parents, remarking her 
love of prayer and penance, feared that she intended to 
become a religious, and, forgetting that God is not a lover 
to be lightly put aside, they called their child home. There 
she entered fully into their wishes, learned Latin eagerly 
as the key to the Scriptures, earnestly studied music for 
which she showed no aptitude, took dancing lessons, and 
grasped the principles of drawing. And all this time, when 
God seemed to be only waiting, He was preparing her for 
what He had in store. Her parents saw her docile sub- 
mission to all they wished, and hence planned a marriage 
for their daughter; but the announcement of this project 
became for Philippine the longed-for opportunity to make 
known her intention to be a religious. Firm opposition was 
her parents' answer. This did not deter her, however, for 


she quietly left home as if for a visit and entered Ste. Marie 
d'en Haut. In 1787 she was clothed in the hahit of a 
Visitandine. Her apostolate, it seemed, was to he that of 
education. If her longing to go, like St. Francis Xavier, 
to foreign lands was not to be satisfied, like St. Teresa, 
she could at least win souls by prayer; and in this crucible 
of unselfishness her zeal was proven true. If, with the 
Apostle of the Indies, she dreamed of a more extended 
apostolate, with St. Francis Regis she could plan hidden 
works of labor among the poor and little. If Bayard's 
courage fired her heart, she was, like him, reproachless, for 
she was able later on to say that she never remembered 
having infringed a single point of the rule. There at Ste. 
Marie grew 7 the love that had all but drawn her to Carmel, 
the love of prayer and of the Blessed Sacrament, before 
which she would spend whole nights when she could obtain 
leave. To Philippine, there was a sacred charm about night 
hours given to prayer, a hallowed atmosphere which re- 
called to her mind Him who had prayed on the mountainside 
when His disciples, less weary than He, had gone to rest. 
During the day the world with its distractions hovered be- 
tween her soul and God; but at night she seemed to stand 
between God and the world, drawing them together, as it 
were, by her all-embracing love. God's grace seemed to be 
preparing her for her profession, although, when in 1788 
she cried out with yearning, "My heart is ready," He who 
called stayed her further advance. During her novitiate 
days storm clouds of the Revolution had been gathering over 
France. Her father would not consent to her making her 
vows. The day was put off, and she possessed her soul in 
patience, strengthened by the advice of a priest who seemed 
all but prophetic in his words of counsel : "God has secret 
ends in what He allows; later you will understand." God's 
little seed was continuing to ripen, and Philippine, though 
heart-broken, did not ask to understand. 


In 1791 the storm of the Revolution broke over France, 
and Monsieur Duchesne withdrew his daughter from Ste. 
Marie. Philippine put off the religious habit, symbol of 
what she loved best, and returned to the world. She would 
make the sacrifice of Ste. Marie, of her dear France; she 
would follow the Visitandines to Italy where they had 
taken refuge. But once more her parents intervened. God, 
who called her, again allowed her to be kept from Him. 
Her family left Grenoble and retired to Granne, and there 
in the parish church she saw a sign of hope, a token of 
God's approval, for above the altar hung a picture of St. 
Francis Xavier and St. Francis Regis. She invoked both of 
these great saints and rejoiced to find, among the poor she 
visited, memories of the one who had labored and prayed 
in those very hamlets. A faithful priest, disguised as Mon- 
sieur Duchesne's factor, often said Mass in a secluded room 
of their house. God had allowed Philippine to return to 
the world only to break the ties that might have bound her 
to it. 

Not long after the death of her mother, the young girl 
returned to Grenoble, for she felt that she could best serve 
her father's interests by devoting herself to the service of the 
Church, from whose fold he seemed to be straying. Time 
proved her decision right, for doubtless it was her sacrifice 
and prayer that won for him the grace of a blessed death. 
Grenoble was not as she had seen it last; Ste. Marie d'en 
Haut was a State prison, its cells crowded with priests, nuns, 
and persons of rank awaiting execution. Philippine with a 
few friends, who adopted the name of Ladies of Mercy, 
undertook to bring them spiritual and temporal help. They 
entered the foulest dungeons, served the prisoners with 
radiant joy, and envied those who were going to death. 
Through her devoted zeal many a soul among the neglected 
poor of Grenoble received the Sacraments and died in 


Little by little the storm clouds rolled back, the political 
outlook brightened, and Philippine prayed and worked for 
the return of the Visitandines to Ste. Marie. A forty days' 
prayer to the Sacred Heart won the intention, and 
on December 10, 1801, the house was bought back by her 
relatives. A mob of street Arabs whom she had prepared 
for their First Communion, and who, unknowingly, had 
trained her in patience, carried her parcels through the 
pouring rain up the hill to Ste. Marie. God has promised 
to hear prayer, and as a proof that u He is ever better than 
His word, not less good," that day brought the first visit of 
Father Rivet who was to be the divine instrument of draw- 
ing Philippine to the Sacred Heart. 

But the end was not yet. Once more were her hopes to be 
shattered. She was joined by one Visitandine and a poor 
child. Slowly the number grew. On Christmas night they 
put off their secular dress to clothe themselves in the livery 
of religious poverty. In Passion Week the former Superior 
with several of her daughters arrived, and Philippine re- 
joiced in the restoration she thought complete. She 
yearned for her profession. But now trials, like to those 
which St. Teresa had met in her most difficult undertak- 
ings, fell to Philippine's lot. Most of the nuns were too 
advanced in years, too intimidated by cruel sufferings to 
face the winter in a ruined building, and to enter into 
Philippine's apostolic plans. In August, 1802, she found 
herself alone, save but for a lay sister and a young girl who 
intended to become a religious. Again, the Divine Hand 
that beckoned seemed to thrust her aside. Father Rivet 
consoled her in her loneliness and spoke of a new congre- 
gation whose spirit was based on devotion to the Sacred 
Heart, and whose rules were modeled on those of the 
Society of Jesus. He hoped to draw the foundress, Mother 
Medeleine Sophie Barat, to open a house in Grenoble, and 
felt with Philippine that God might have been keeping her 


for this; but her time of waiting was not even then at an 
end. She was joined by Father Rivet's sister and by other 
postulants, and together they formed an association under 
the name of Daughters of the Propagation of the Faith. 
Their means of spreading truth was a school that soon 
counted eighteen pupils. The seed was ripened, and soon 
it was to be garnered into the Sacred Heart. 

The little Society of the Sacred Heart was still very 
young. It was born in a tiny upper room in Paris, Novem- 
ber 21, 1800. It was God's child, given by Him to Made- 
leine Sophie to cherish, at least so she would have it thought; 
for never did she allow it to be said that she had given it 
being. The blessed foundress always looked to Father 
Varin as the godfather of the Society, the guardian of its 
best interests; and it was he who told her of Ste. Marie 
d'en Haut where Father Rivet had presented to him Philip- 
pine Duchesne, a "soul whom it would be worth while to 
seek even at the ends of the earth." While urging Mother 
Barat to go to Grenoble, Father Varin would laughingly 
check Mother Duchesne's impatience by speaking of the 
slowness with which God perfects His works. But at last, 
in Advent, 1804, the longed-for visit took place and Philip- 
pine knelt at the door of her loved Ste. Marie to welcome 
her new Mother in the words of Isaias: "How beautiful 
upon the mountain are the feet of him that bringeth good 
tidings, and that preacheth peace." She wrote: "My part 
now is to obey and to exclaim in deep humility, 'Forever 
shall I sing the mercies of the Lord I' " 

Christmas was approaching and Mother Barat rejoiced 
to spend the season so dear to her heart in a house whose 
poverty resembled that of Bethlehem. At office, when they 
called upon the ice and snow to join them in blessing the 
Lord, they were obeyed ; for cracked and ruined walls lent 
scanty shelter from the elements. During a retreat given 
by Father Roget, the five new novices of the Sacred Heart 


were asked to place at Mother Barat's feet anything to 
which they were attached. Mother Duchesne felt that she 
clung to Ste. Marie, but she longed to place it at her new 
Superior's disposal; grilles and other visible signs of aus- 
terity were given up, and Philippine's fasts and vigils gave 
place in part to a harder renunciation, that of her will. 
She had not lost her attraction for an apostolate in foreign 
lands, it is true, but her mission for the moment was evi- 
dently to uphold Ste. Marie and continue its work. 

In 1805, on the Feast of the Presentation, Philippine 
made for the first time the vows which nearly fifty years 
later she would renew in the words which bound her to God 
and to the Society of the Sacred Heart: "I consecrate myself 
to poverty, but how rich I am in Thee; I pledge myself 
to chastity, Thou art my soul's delight; I vow myself to 
obedience to serve Thee is to reign. I dedicate myself anew 
to the education of youth, Thou art the Shepherd of their 
Souls." She loved her old order with a love that made 
all sacrifices for it seem but joys the most exquisite, but 
now she felt that God' intended her for the Sacred Heart. 

The following year, Dom Augustin de Lestrange, the 
Abbot of La Trappe, came to Grenoble and spoke of his 
great journeys, and of souls plunged in the darkness of 
error. Then it was that Mother Duchesne wrote enthusi- 
astically to her Superior General of her renewed aspira- 
tions. The answer was a word of encouragement to 
advance, but to wait. By daily fasts, nightly visits, con- 
stant mortification, she prepared herself for her mission. 
The coveted permission to spend the entire night of Holy 
Thursday, 1806, in the chapel was given her by Mother 
Barat, and in thankfulness she wrote to her beloved 
Superior : 

Your letter gave me great pleasure and did me untold 
good. I needed that letter badly, for my soul had been 
as hard as a stone for three weeks. At your words it 


melted like wax before the fire. My eyes were no 
longer dry, and joy flooded my heart all that night, 
for the permission you gave me for the vigil came 
just in time. O blessed night, when for the second time 
1 thought that my prayer had been granted. Oh, that 
I may go before the end of the year. I have almost 
persuaded myself that I shall. All night long I was 
in the New World, where I journeyed in good company. 
First, I reverently gathered up all the Precious Blood 
from the Garden, the Praetorium, Calvary. I took 
possession of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Closely 
embracing my treasure, I carried It everywhere to 
share most lavishly without fear of Its ever being 
exhausted. St. Francis Xavier interested himself in 
bringing my precious sowing to harvest, and from his 
place before the throne of God he prayed that new 
lands should open their doors to the Gospel. St. 
Francis Regis himself piloted the missionary nuns; so 
too did many another saint on fire for the glory of 
God. And so all went well. My heart seemed 
incapable of even the holiest sorrow, because I felt 
that the merits of Jesus are to be applied to souls in 
the New World. 

The twelve hours of the night passed quickly and 
without weariness, though I remained on my knees; 
yet in the evening I had feared that I could not hold 
out an hour. I had many sacrifices to offer a Mother, 
and what a Mother! Sisters, relations, a beloved 
mountain home ! And then I seemed to be alone with 
only my Jesus; alone, except for children, black and 
uncouth, and I felt happier in their midst than does a 
king in his court. . . . Dear Mother, when you say, 
"Lo, I send you," I shall answer at once, '"I go." 

I tried to be sad all the rest of Good Friday, but I 
had little inclination to sorrow, my hopes beat so high. 

Philippine was still only a "saint in the making," but 
Mother Barat, with that hopeful insight which God deigns 


to share with the holy, saw the promise in the seed that 
at times appeared unsightly to those less versed in the ways 
of God. Philippine must bide God's time, for there were 
not enough subjects for the work in France. Perhaps, too, 
"this little seed/ 1 though ripened by pain, was not yet ready 
for American soil. In her night vigils, and in the spaces 
which even the most crowded day leaves to those who love 
solitude, she felt the longing grow more ardent. God 
again seemed to call and hold her back at once. She had 
yet to learn patience and prudence, the calme du del which 
was the atmosphere in which her Mother Barat lived. 

Six years went by, and Philippine practiced in hidden 
ways the virtues of which she would later give an heroic 
example. It was for her dear Indians that she multiplied 
her penances as far as obedience would allow; it was of 
them that she spoke to God in prayer and to her children 
in recreation hours; it was for them that she suffered long 
hours in the classroom, long nights by the bedside of a sick 
child. They were symbolized in the lambs she painted on 
the walls of Ste, Marie. And when she would at times 
remind Mother Barat of the promise made, she would 
receive as answer the laughing question, "How can the 
voyage be made alone and penniless?" Sometimes, too, the 
holy foundress with Burgundian wit would repeat the story 
of a Jesuit who, after sighing for years for the missions, 
had been sent to foreign lands where he baptized one old 
savage and died. But both Mother Barat and her religious 
daughter would have counted all pain as nothing for the 
assurance of gaining even one soul to Christ. Philippine 
was indeed to sail for America, but not before she had 
spent years in God's novitiate of suffering. 

In 1815 He accepted Philippine's generously offered 
sacrifice of her loved Ste. Marie; she was called to Paris 
to attend a General Congregation of the Society. Her 
appointment as Mother Barat?s secretary made America 


seem farther away than ever. The gloom of this keen 
disappointment, however, was, as often before, only the 
"shade of God's Hand outstretched caressingly"; for He 
had so arranged Philippine's life that she should be portress 
at the mother house when Monsignor Du Bourg, Bishop 
of Louisiana, came to ask Mother Barat to send some nuns 
to his diocese. 

Blessed Madeleine Sophie longed to accede to his request, 
but prudence counseled delay. The bishop was too much 
in earnest to be so easily put off; on his return from a visit 
to Belgium he called again at the mother house, and Philip- 
pine, whose disappointment at the delay had purified, not 
weakened her desire, realized that her hour had come. 
She threw herself at her Superior's feet and begged that she 
might be sent. Her prayer was not in vain ; the departure 
was arranged for the spring of 1818. Philippine would 
willingly have left to others the care of the temporal inter- 
ests of her mission, but this burden was placed upon her 
shoulders, and she foresaw and provided for the needs of 
each of her four companions, while forgetful of her own. 

Now that God had given her her heart's desire, He took 
the bloom off it by her nomination as Superior of the Amer- 
ican mission. Her four companions were Mesdames 
Octavie Berthold and Eugenie Aude and two lay sisters. 
Mother Barat blessed her dear Philippine in the words said 
by the priest over the incense used at Mass: "Mayest thou 
be blessed by Him in whose honor thou -art to be con- 
sumed." The foundresses then left the mother house, 
encouraged by the approval of ecclesiastics, enriched with 
relics, followed by the prayers of the Society and strong in 

On Holy Saturday, the nineteenth of March, 1818, the 
Rebecca sailed from Bordeaux, carrying the five Religious 
of the Sacred Heart to their distant mission; on Easter 
Sunday they lost sight of France, which only one of the five 


would ever seen again. And this one was not to be Philip- 
pine Duchesne. 

Their destination was New Orleans by the way of Cuba. 
Crossing the Atlantic in those days was not the pleasure 
trip it is to-day. u There is not much fun in it unless you 
do it for God," wrote Mother Duchesne. The Rebecca, 
buffeted by wind and tossed by the storm, becalmed at times, 
pursued by pirates, even set on fire, carrying filthy, disease- 
infected cabins, through insupportable heat, at last touched 
at Havana, and on the twenty-ninth of May reached New 
Orleans. To the nuns the nine weeks' journey, the perils 
to which they had been exposed were as naught beside the 
joy of reaching the Promised Land. It was the Feast of 
the Sacred Heart, and in the joy of their own poor hearts 
they renewed their vows and the consecration of their lives 
to the salvation of the Indians. Kneeling, they kissed the 
ground they had come to conquer for God, and rejoiced in 
the possession of their Promised Land. 

At four o'clock the next morning they were cordially 
received at the Ursuline Convent. Bishop Du Bourg's kind 
letter of welcome to St. Louis was delayed, however, and 
as the days passed Mother Duchesne suffered to see her 
inaction prolonged. She feared, likewise, to impose on the 
generous hospitality of the Ursulines who begged the Reli- 
gious of the Sacred Heart to remain in New Orleans, where, 
they said, "neither negroes nor savages are wanting." But 
as her obedience was for St. Louis, Mother Duchesne longed 
to be there, and hearing indirectly that the Bishop expected 
them, they set out again in July. 

After forty days of spiritual privation and bodily fatigue, 
they reached St. Louis. This journey up the Mississippi 
was not without interest, for the majestic river and the 
virgin forests presented scenes of great beauty. They 
found, too, the squalid Indian villages they passed more 
appealing than new and promising cities. 


Bishop Du Bourg welcomed the nuns in his episcopal 
palace, a barn. His bed was four boards, and his cathe- 
dral a shanty where the prelate alternately filled the office 
of Bishop and choir. The religious would have been glad 
to face a similar poverty in St. Louis where they would 
have had the assurance of spiritual guidance, but the Bishop 
held to his first determination that they should open a 
school at St. Charles, then but a group of shanties in the 
midst of the Sioux; but as a commercial center for trappers, 
it seemed to the prelate to promise a better future than the 
larger neighboring town of St. Louis. 

Mother Duchesne found in the residence chosen for them 
at St. Charles the fulfillment of her longings for poverty 
and penance. The house was composed of one room and 
six cupboards ; but by removing the beds each morning, they 
could accommodate ten children. The two-acre lot was 
without a tree or blade of grass, and the nuns at once went 
to work, digging the earth and cleaning the stable. The 
Bishop had bidden them love their abjection which would 
bring forth fruit in abundance, and Philippine's faith made 
her esteem privation a privilege. Sometimes bread was 
lacking and the only water was from a little stream where 
the cattle waded. Their poor walls let in the winter's 
bitter cold; the logs of wood were too big to burn and 
there was no one to chop for them. Maize, potatoes, and 
salt fish formed the stock of provisions; eggs, butter, and 
oil were unheard-of luxuries. 

A few children came as boarders; the day pupils were 
nearly all poor and ignorant and thus the favorites of 
Mother Duchesne. She had to adapt the methods of edu- 
cation in tlje Society to new and difficult circumstances, and 
her rigid disposition and her loyalty to Mother Barat made 
her slow to concede. The blessed foundress understood 
better than her daughter that the Plan of Studies she had 
given her Society and the Code of Discipline she had 


inaugurated were to be expansive a living organism, not 
a dead weight, and therefore could develop and change in 
details. But communication with France was slow and 
often completely withheld, and Mother Duchesne's sanctity 
alone kept the Society in America linked with the Center. 

Philippine had yearned to evangelize the Indians. God 
seemed to have approved, even more, to have inspired this 
desire, but the children of the forest were not yet to be the 
objects of her zeal. Once again God's voice called while 
His hand held her back. She wrote to France: "If our 
Sisters picture us surrounded by savages, they are greatly 
mistaken." After speaking of the difficulty of obtaining 
pupils, she added: "In revenge we weed in the garden, 
carry straw, take the cows to water, with as much joy as 
if we were teaching, since God so wills it." 

But lack of pupils was not the only cross. Several suc- 
cessive winters were unusually severe ; during one the bread 
froze on the table, the water beside the fire. Once more 
the Ursulines of New Orleans were God's means of answer- 
ing prayer, for they sent provisions from Louisiana. Then, 
too, robberies and burnings went on around the convent. 
Occasionally a prairie fire came dangerously near, and day 
and night they had to watch to put out the sparks that fell 
on the miserable buildings. One Holy Thursday the little 
chapel caught fire. Mother Duchesne, hastening from her 
sick bed to the altar which had been in flames, saw in the 
center a black square ; it was the charred pall covering the 
paten. She raised it and found the Sacred Host intact. 

In the midst of these hardships, however, there were 
consolations. The poor children quickly learned their 
prayers and hymns; the others, more favored with this 
world's goods, began to show a self-conquest that was new 
to them ; one, while at home for a holiday, as a preparation 
for her First Communion, carried eight pails of water to 
help a slave. But it was Mother Barat's letters, above 


everything else, that brought unspeakable joy to Philippine, 
who read them on her knees and drew from them new 
courage and confidence. The Superior General, who 
watched from afar, thought that the failure outweighed 
the success and that in St. Louis her nuns could do more 
for the Church; but Bishop Du Bourg had serious reasons 
for not wishing to place the religious in a town where his 
own position had become all but untenable. He asked that 
one or two be left in St. Charles to conduct a new parish 
school about to be built, and that the others should go to 
Florissant to open a boarding school. He acceded to 
Mother Barat's request, however, that the foundation be 
undivided as she could not send more subjects to reinforce 
either house. 

In August, 1819, the nuns moved to Florissant, eight 
miles away. The Bishop had given a portion of land, but 
lack of funds retarded the construction of even a modest 
building, and the nuns on their arrival were sheltered for 
three months in a farmhouse. Primitive, too, had been 
their journey. They carried all the household goods in a 
wagon, while Mother Duchesne, ever seeking the hardest 
for herself, insisted in going on foot, driving the cows and 
chickens before her. The better of the two rooms in the 
farmhouse served as a chapel and Mother Duchesne could 
write: "We are established according to our desires, for 
he who has Jesus has all." Never had a chapel more truly 
pictured Bethlehem; for days no windows were there; the 
planks in the floor were wide apart, so, as Philippine said, 
"sweeping is easily done." 

If she found in America the poverty of the first ages of 
the Church, she found there also the heroism of primitive 

Shall I tell you what it is that urges me on [she 
wrote to one of her religious sisters in France]? It 
is the example of the saintly clergy of this country and 


their ardent zeal. And above all I place the example 
of our good Bishop who is all things to all men, who 
works incessantly and suffers with generous fortitude; 
his trials are unnumbered, but how great he is in the 
midst of them! 

It remains on record that a retreat given to the religious 
at this time by the saintly Father Felix de Andreis, the 
Provincial of the Lazarists, raised the courage of the little 
band and made their abject poverty and physical pain more 
precious than all that the world could have offered of wealth 
or of pleasure. 

The stay of the nuns on the farm was of short duration. 
Toward Christmas they dismissed their nine boarders and 
again taking all their household effects, and driving their 
cattle before them through snow up to their knees, they 
reached the house prepared for them. They arrived in 
time to get a room ready for midnight Mass. With what 
joy must the Divine Child have entered the home where 
He was to be Master and Lord ! The inhabitants of Floris- 
sant gave their aid, and without delay a school was built. 
Children came from St. Louis, and several postulants were 
received. Mother Duchesne attributed this first sign of 
good being effected to the prayers of her beloved niece, 
Madame Aloysia Jouve, who had just died in France. 

The establishment of a novitiate in America was, in 
Mother Barat's eyes, a sign that she might prudently grant 
Bishop Du Bourg's request for other foundations, and in 
1821 she gratefully accepted a house offered by a convert 
in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. There also the opening was 
made on a small and humble scale, a beginning that in the 
Society proverbially stands for a pledge of God's blessing 
on a foundation. In Grand Coteau, Mother Eugenie Aude 
found a log cabin and an extensive farm ; five children came 
as boarders, but spiritual help was wanting. Little by little 
conditions improved. To the joy of all, Mother Barat sent 


several religious from France and new pupils were received. 
But as brighter skies promised, the Louisiana Superior fell 
gravely ill and Mother Duchesne went to her bedside. On 
the return journey she herself became a victim to yellow 
fever and was obliged to halt at Natchez, where she feared 
that she would die without the Sacraments. But Philippine 
Duchesne, God's seed, had another kind of death to undergo 
that she might bear fruit a hundredfold. 

Four years later she founded in utter poverty another 
house, that of St. Michael, about sixty miles from New 
Orleans. Crosses increased in Louisiana. The overflow of 
the Mississippi and a terrible hurricane brought devasta- 
tion and misery in their wake. But as if in compensation, 
unlooked-for spiritual help came to the sisters in Missouri, 
for about this time a colony of Jesuits arrived at Florissant. 
Mother Duchesne helped them establish themselves out of 
her own property. Her convent was in the greatest need 
just then, but "we must be a providence to others," she 
would say, "as God is to us." 

The work of the Church, and especially the missions, 
received an apparent setback in the resignation and depar- 
ture of Bishop Du Bourg. Urged by his successor, Bishop 
Rosati, Mother Barat advised Mother Duchesne to pur- 
chase property in St. Louis. The good Mother, though 
keenly alive to the difficulty of supporting a new mission 
when Florissant was in such want, applied to the well-known 
charity of Mr. John Mullanphy, who gave the Society some 
land on condition that, as long as the foundation endure, 
twenty orphans would be received and cared for. Mother 
Duchesne thought that she found in the house and garden 
some resemblance to her loved Ste. Marie d'en Haut, for 
it stood on a slight elevation above the Mississippi. 

Beginnings here, too, were blessed by the Cross. Although 
the house did not deserve its reputation of being haunted, 
it was none the less a popular resort of wild cats and "huge 


spiders that sang like birds." Sixty children soon came to 
learn from Mother Duchesne more than human science 
could teach them. The house at St. Charles was reopened 
in 1828, but children were not numerous there as in the 
Southern houses. Mother Duchesne painted in glowing 
terms the splendid prosperity of St. Michael and Grand 
Coteau, the schools full to overflowing and the good work 
being done. 

With the success of the Louisiana houses, Mother 
Duchesne contrasted the apparent failure in Missouri, of 
which she thought herself to be the cause. "I am an old 
worn-out stick," she wrote to her Superior, "quite useless 
and only in every one's way. All that I have a hand in 
goes wrong." She begged to be discharged from respon- 
sibility. She felt that her imperfect English, her austerity, 
her slowness to take up new methods, her desire to work 
for the Indians and for the slaves, gave offense. Mother 
Barat, hearing complaints from various quarters, thought 
that perhaps her daughter's love for humility and pov'erty 
and her unswerving loyalty to the Center might have pre- 
vented her making concessions necessary to gain the con- 
fidence of the families of the children. She wrote to her 
dear Philippine to be less severe. Great was her joy, how- 
ever, to hear from Bishop Rosati, who appreciated Mother 
Duchesne's austere virtue, that she and she alone was quite 
suited to her place and was the Superior whom he desired 
for St. Louis. Philippine gave up her hopes, and found, 
in the position of responsibility she might not escap'e, sor- 
rows and trials which compensated for the hidden life not 
yet to be hers. 

In 1832 cholera ravaged the Mississippi Valley and many 
nuns and children at St. Michael and Grand Coteau w'ere 
among its victims. Another sorrow to Mother Duchesne's 
heart, tender in its very strength, was the news that her 
dear Ste. Marie d'en Haut had been closed. At about the 


same time she made the sacrifice of the two daughters who 
had come with her from France so long before, and who 
had borne with her the labors and the heat: Mother Octavie 
Berthold went to her eternal reward, and Mother Eugenie 
Aude was called to France to represent the American col- 
ony at the mother house. Philippine, God's grain of wheat, 
had been trodden into the ground, but her Christlike loneli- 
ness was the pledge that she would not remain alone, but 
would bring forth fruit in God's own good time. 

In 1834 Mother Duchesne's desire for the hidden life 
was granted. She left St. Louis for Florissant, "the poor- 
est and humblest house of the Society," to be its poorest 
and humblest inmate. Her room was a miserable hole with 
a single window, her sole covering at night an old piece of 
black stuff with a cross like a palf. Salt was the only remedy 
for fingers that were almost raw from the cold; her chosen 
portion the scraps left by the children. At night she would 
visit the dormitories and mend the stockings and clothes 
belonging to the children. She spent hours digging in the 
garden and was self-sacrificing in her care of the sick. 

In 1840 Madame Galitzin, who had been sent to visit 
the American houses, came to Florissant, and changes fol- 
lowed. Mother Duchesne rejoiced in that which relieved 
her from the post of Superior. But her great desire still 
remained unfulfilled. Twenty-two years before, in leaving 
France, she had vowed to devote her life to the Indians; 
and God, who inspired the desire, had kept her from ful- 
filling the promise. Now that she had spent herself and 
been spent in works that appealed to her less, now that she 
was full of years and worn with labors and weak with 
physical maladies, He in His inscrutable Providence, 
accepted her offer. She had prayerfully followed the mis- 
sionaries in their work in distant fields, and she listened 
eagerly to what Father De Smet told her of the tribe of 
the Potawatomies. At this time the priest begged that 


some Religious of the Sacred Heart be sent to them and 
his request was granted. Mother Barat named her Philip- 
pine as one of the missionaries. 

Mother Duchesne and her companions reached Sugar 
Creek in July, 1841, and were warmly welcomed by the 
Indians who, to the number of seven hundred, either 
embraced or shook hands with the Superior. The sisters 
were lodged for a time in the hut of one of the savages, 
but a house was soon built for them. The Indians treated 
the nuns with the greatest respect and saved what they 
thought best for the "aged lady," as they called Mother 

The school prospered from the first; the children and 
the women learned to knit, to sew, and to cook. In such 
surroundings Mother Duchesne seemed to have attained 
the goal of her life's desire; but she found that she was 
able to give little active service in the school. Her great 
age, her ignorance of the Indian language, and her dimin- 
ished strength made much impossible. There had been 
hesitation about sending her to Sugar Creek, but Father 
Verhaegen, confident in the power of an heroic soul, had 
insisted: "Well, if she cannot work, she can pray for the 
mission' 1 ; and this the venerable Mother did for four hours 
in the morning and as many in the afternoon. On Sunday, 
they would bring her light repast to the Church door that 
she might not be too long away from Him without whose 
strength her very strength was weakness. Her increasing 
bodily sufferings were offered for the "dear Indians/' who 
held her in veneration and called her "the woman who 
always prays." Often during her long devotions they 
would reverently steal in to kiss her habit. One night they 
placed a grain of corn upon the hem of her apron as she 
knelt in the darkness before the Blessed Sacrament. When 
the morning came and the Indians returned to the chapel 
they were greatly moved to find the grain of corn where 


they had placed it the night before. The chalice of her 
sufferings, however, was not yet filled; another journey, 
another station, lay between her and Heaven. After a 
year among the Potawatomies her health failed com- 
pletely, and Bishop Kenrick, who was visiting Sugar Creek, 
insisted on bringing her back to St. Charles. But her 
energy and zeal kept her useful to the end, and for a time 
she taught a class of poor children. 

Then came another sorrow Florissant was closed, and 
the novitiate transferred to St. Louis. Infirmities and iso- 
lation were to perfect this generous soul whose yearnings 
were all for God's glory and who thought not at all of the 
failure or success of the life she had lived, but for Him. 
Those whose old age is crowned with holiness are ever more 
ready to see visions of the future than to dream dreams 
of the past. So it was with Mother Duchesne. In her 
strivings for Christ she was as ardent as in those far-off 
days in her native France. Her room was near the chapel 
and her joy was to answer Mass there when no acolyte was 
at hand. Here, too, she was wont to spend uncounted 
hours before the Blessed Sacrament. Here she found 
encouragement and consolation in the new trials that came 
to her, here she sent up to Heaven the cry that saved St. 
Charles from the closing that threatened. Here, and here 
alone, she poured out the grief caused by Mother Barat's 
apparent forgetfulness and long-continued silence. 

For years a strange misunderstanding on the part of an 
intermediary prevented any of Philippine's letters from 
reaching the mother house. But Mother Duchesne's heart 
was not the only one to be grieved, and in 1847 Mother 
Amelie Jouve on her way from France to Canada was sent 
by the Superior General to St. Charles to learn why there 
had been no communication from her "dear Philippine." 
But this great consolation of renewed intercourse with the 
mother house was to be a prelude to further suffering. She 


grew weaker and weaker, and at times thought that (jod 
was asking the terrible sacrifice of her mental life. It was 
not so, however, for her mind remained clear to the very 

Mother Duchesne had once hoped that the day would 
come when she might work in South America under the 
protection of her patron, St. Rose of Lima, but this was not 
in God's designs. But He did wish a missionary for that 
land to be fired with the zeal of the venerable Philippine, 
and Mothers du Rousier and Cutts, en route for South 
America, were sent to visit St. Charles. There they 
received for themselves and their mission the benediction 
of the dying Mother on the work that lay before them. 

Of the blessing she had received there Mother Cutts 
afterward said: "Oh, I seem to feel still the cross she 
traced on my forehead, I trust to that cross to bring me 
happiness, and I shall try to love it ever more and more." a 

As the year 1851 advanced, Mother Duchesne grew 
weaker. On October 14 she wrote to Mother Amelie 
Jouve: "I am growing very old. My memory is going and 
my strength diminishes more and more. Perhaps this will 
be the last letter from me." a 

To Mother Barat she wrote her last farewell, August 17, 
1852. She closes by saying: "I do not know when my end 
will be, but I come again to beg forgiveness and to assure 
you of my profound veneration." 8 

November 18, 1852, was her last Communion Day. 
After receiving Extreme Unction and Holy Viaticum she 
cried out: "Come, come quickly." Without delay she asked 
Him to come for her. And He who so often had kept her 
waiting, that she might be perfected, now that she was 
perfect, called her home. 

1 Erskine, Mother Philippine Duchesne, New York, 1926, p. 385. 
3 Erskine, op. cit., New York, 1926, p. 381. 
3 Erskine, op. cit., New York, 1926, p. 385. 


Mother Marjory Erskine, the biographer of Mother 
Duchesne, describes the events that followed the passing 
of the American foundress of the Religious of the Sacred 

When the Angelus rang at the noon-day, Philippine 
Duchesne had, in truth, given to God her heart, her 
soul and her life. Her body was laid in the tiny parlor 
near her cell and a few of the many who revered her 
went there to pray for her whom they loved. A 
daguerreotype was taken of her as she lay there in 
marblelike peace, "in case," so said her community, 
"she may one day be canonized." And to the Mother 
House they wrote: "She was to the end a model of 
obedience, love of poverty, humility." 

On the 20th, the funeral Mass was said in the 
Church of St. Charles Borromeo, for the convent 
chapel adjoining it could not contain all who wished to 
be present. Then she was laid to rest in the little 
cemetery on the hill behind the convent, whence through 
the leafless trees could be seen the Valley of Florissant, 
her "Valley Forge," and the turbid tawny Missouri 
flowing from the west where Sugar Creek nestled, 
down, down towards St. Michael's past St. Michael's 
out to the sea measureless as the love that had bound 
her to the Mother House and to the Foundress, St. 
Madeleine Sophie. 

Mother Duchesne had said that all would go well after 
her death, and her words were prophetic. At the end it 
had been given to her faith to read the promise of God's 
success in her apparent failure. It is not possible in this 
brief sketch to speak of the many houses whose foundations 
may be traced back to the lowly home of St. Charles; of 
the numbers of children trained by the successors of the 
humble Mother Duchesne ; of the many religious who have 

* Erskine, op. cit. t New York, 1926, p. 387 t seq. 


striven to follow in her footsteps. Perhaps her fourscore 
years and more made little mark in the world. But they 
did far more: they created an atmosphere which impreg- 
nates the very walls of the house where she lived, and the 
stones all but cry out what they witnessed of humility, pov- 
erty, and abnegation. She, like all who follow in the steps 
of their persecuted Leader, has been harshly criticized even 
by the good; but the adverse criticism comes from those 
who do not know her. Those who lived with her in the 
acid test of everyday life knew her and called her a saint. 
"She is the St. Francis Assisi of our Society," wrote one. 
"I have seen Anthony in the desert" was the judgment of a 
second, who had been to visit her in her corner under the 
stairs which she called her cell. Ecclesiastics revered her 
as a saint and they are slow to beatify and canonize. 
Father Verhaegen, who interred her in the little cemetery 
of St. Charles, wrote in the Parish Register: "Eminent in 
all the virtues of religious life, particularly humility, she 
died in the odor of sanctity." 

The children, whose instinct in the discernment of spirits 
is little short of infallible, reverenced her. "Take me to 
Mother Duchesne," they would say when troublesome, "she 
will talk to me of God and I shall be forgiven." The poor 
and lowly saw Christ in her sanctity, as she regarded Him 
in their poverty. She was the valiant woman. Her price 
was as of things brought from afar. She rose in the night 
of the French Revolution and gave spiritual food to her 
maidens. She considered the distant field, and bought it, 
paying the price. She girded herself with strength. Her 
lamp was not put out in the night of failure. She put out 
her hand to strong things and opened her hand to the poor. 
She opened her mouth to wisdom and the law of clemency 
was on her tongue. Give her of the fruit of her hands 
and let her works praise her. Her children await but the 
word of the Church to arise and call her blessed. 


Bishop Du Bourg's words to her seem to have had in 
them an element of prophecy: "We must clear the field 
before we can cultivate it. You and I will pass our lives 
in this ungrateful task. Our successors will reap the benefit 
in this world let us be satisfied to reap it in the next." 5 

Mother Duchesne left little of the world's goods to her 
spiritual children; her richness lay in the things that do not 
pass away. But her time-worn office book is cherished lov- 
ingly by her daughters at old St. Charles. On one page 
are the words, Fiat Voluntas Tua, and the traces of tears. 

5 Erskine, op. cit. t New York, 1926, p. 394. 



FROM a line of ancestors famous for the part they played 
in the history of the Catholic Church in America, it is not 
surprising that Mother Angela Sansbury should have fig- 
ured so conspicuously in the Catholic annals of Kentucky 
and in the history of the Order of St. Dominic in America. 
Marie Sansbury, daughter of Alexis Sansbury and Eliza- 
beth Hamilton, was born in Prince George County, Mary- 
land, in the month of March, 1795. Like many natives of 
that land of sanctuary, she inherited an indomitable will, 
a mind that was keen, subtle, and of tireless endurance, and 
a heart that throbbed only to measure a life well spent for 
the honor of God and the 'betterment of her fellow 

There is no record how it came about that her parents 
migrated from Maryland to Kentucky, but it may be sup- 
posed that they were either actuated by the spirit of zeal 
for religion as their forefathers had been, or that it was 
the exaggerated reports spread abroad of the great land 
of the West. From a human standpoint, it was but natural 
that the glowing accounts of a country "flowing with milk 
and honey" should make a strong appeal to the people of 
St. Mary's, Charles, and Prince George counties. At 
home the soil had been worn out by continued cultivation 
and the tillers of it longed for a more fertile and produc- 
tive one. Hence, as early as 1785, sixty Catholic families 
of these three counties formed an association and pledged 
themselves to emigrate to Kentucky as soon as circumstances 
would permit. 



Twenty-five of the sixty families left Maryland at once 
to cross the Alleghanies and make their way into the wilder- 
ness of the west. The remaining ones followed some time 
afterwards. It is safe to venture that Alexis Sansbury was 
among those who pledged themselves to emigrate and that 
he reached Kentucky with his family before the close of 
the eighteenth century. 

Once in their new homes on the Ohio, the pioneers of this 
frontier of the Faith began to make holy and beautiful the 
place where the hand of God had led them. Nelson, 
Marion, and Washington counties became the centers of 
Catholicity in the state, and Cartwright's Creek, in the last- 
named county, became the cradle of the Dominican order 
not only of Kentucky but also of the entire country. It was 
here that the father of the first Prioress of the Daughters 
of St. Dominic in America took up his abode. He estab- 
lished his home near the future site of historic St. Rose 
Monastery, from which his daughter, Marie, was destined 
later to imbibe the spirit of St. Dominic. 

Of Mother Angela Sansbury's childhood and youth, little 
is known. All that is told is that she accompanied her 
parents from Maryland to Kentucky, and the words, she 
"was subject to them," seems but appropriate in giving the 
story of her life in the parental home. Here she must have 
shared with her father and mother the hardships of pioneer 
days. Too, she must have assisted in the laborious tasks 
of the household, while her spare moments no doubt were 
occupied in prayer and pious works. For tradition has it 
that it was in her childhood that she developed the piety 
and modesty for which she was afterward noted. It is also 
said that she was a model of what a young girl should be, 
and gained over her companions and friends an influence 
due even more to her prudence and goodness than to her 
talents and learning. She spoke to them of God, and was 
of great assistance to the missionary priests in urging the 


young to devotion and inducing them to frequent Com- 
munion. But the chief attraction and greatest object of 
her solicitude were the souls of the little children. She 
longed to consecrate her life to the work of instructing 
them, but how to do this was the great question. In what 
direction she was being led she did not know. In the light 
of present knowledge, however, it is evident that she made 
her first apprenticeship of life in a manner which well pre- 
pared her soul for future apostleship. While, in the sim- 
plicity of her character and her genuine humility, she 
remained faithful to the duties of her father's house, yet 
her aspirations and the superiority of her mind raised her 
far above her humble situation. The fire of the Faith 
which first was kindled in Maryland was carried to the 
wooded hills and valleys of Kentucky and there began to 
burn especially bright in the hearts of a number of young 
women who were waiting for a priestly hand to offer for 
them their sacrifice. One of these young women was Marie 

In 1808 the first Dominicans carne to Kentucky in the 
person of venerable Fathers Edward Fenwick and Samuel 
T. Wilson. Father Wilson, fired by a zeal not unlike that 
which brought forth the first establishment of the Domini- 
can Sisters at Prouille, in southern France, by St. Dominic 
himself, was determined to found a branch of the Third 
Order of this sisterhood in the wilds of America. Father 
Fenwick on the other hand conceived the idea of intro- 
ducing Dominican sisters from England. But it was in the 
designs of God that the first establishment of the American 
daughters of St. Dominic should spring from native soil. 
Father Fenwick relinquished his plan of the English foun- 
dation and associated himself with Father Wilson in the 
foundation of a convent of the Third Order for women 
near the Dominican Priory of St. Rose. Father Wilson 
consulted Bishop Flaget, of Bardstown, who, welcoming 


the idea, gave his consent for the establishment of a third 
mother house in his diocese in addition to Loretto and 
Nazareth, which had been founded some time before. Hav- 
ing secured the approbation of the officials of the Order 
of St. Dominic, Father Wilson launched his cherished 
undertaking February I, 1822, by a sermon on the 
grandeur of the religious life, before the congregation 
assembled in the primitive Church of St. Rose. The priest 
exhorted the young ladies of the parish to consider well 
the Divine Will in their regard, and should any feel them- 
selves called to a life of sacrifice and mortification, to make 
their desires known to him. Marie Sansbury heard the 
words of the Friar Preacher that February morning and 
saw in them the possibility of consummating the sacrifice 
she had so long wanted to make. Toward the end of the 
month among the nine young women who presented them- 
selves as candidates for the proposed sisterhood, one was 
Marie Sansbury. Her eight companions were Mary Car- 
rico, Mary A. Hill, Mary and Rose Sansbury, cousins of 
Marie and Rosanna Boone, Judith McMahon, Severely 
Tarleton and Molly Johnson. The heart of the founder 
rejoiced at so generous a response and he began at once 
to prepare these ardent souls for their duties as members 
of the Dominican Order. 

Father Wilson, in looking about for a place that might 
serve as a convent for his sisterhood, determined upon a 
log cabin of one room, about a half mile distant from the 
St. Rose Priory. There is something beautiful about those 
log cabins of Catholic pioneer days. They were poor 
abodes, indeed, but loving hearts and generous souls made 
them shrines of holiest labors. They were places of sac- 
rifice, and toil and suffering and hardship. Built of trees 
from the great forests that surrounded them, with chimneys 
made of mud and wattles that often threw back into the 
room the smoke intended for the heavens, with small holes 


that served as windows, and with earthen floors and furni- 
ture as crude as the buildings themselves such were the 
homes of the real aristocrats of American history. But 
they were homes, and blessed ones at that, where God and 
love reigned in sweet mastery, and where the gentle, 
cadenced rosary of the evening was the choir song of the 
wilderness. In the humble log cabin that was turned into 
the first American Dominican convent not only did the Ave 
Maria of the Dominican sisterhood, but soon the entire 
office, arise from fervent hearts. When the regular con- 
ventual life was entered upon by the new religious recruits, 
the same exercises, that at the time were being followed out 
by their unknown Dominican sisters in stately convents of 
the Old World, were being inaugurated in the little log con- 
vent in Kentucky. The midnight stars smiled down upon 
their matin prayers, and the coming of the dawn found them 
already well in the toil of the day. What a blessed picture 
for every religious of America to-day who wears the habit 
of St. Dominic ! 

Father Miles, later the first Bishop of Tennessee, was 
appointed the first chaplain and spiritual director of the 
new sisterhood. So zealous was he in training the young 
aspirants, and so eagerly did they respond to his instruc- 
tions, that in a very short time four of their number were 
thought worthy to receive the habit. Easter Sunday, April 
the seventh, was the date set for this beautiful and solemn 
ceremony. Father Fenwick, Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, 
journeyed from his episcopal see to be present at the great 
event and to bless the undertaking so near and dear to 
his heart. After the usual solemn high mass of the 
day, at which the nine postulants assisted, Marie Sansbury 
approached the altar railing and in the presence of the 
bishop, the fathers, and the congregation of St. Rose, 
received from the hands of Father Wilson the white habit 
of the Dominicans ; and then it was that she was addressed 


with the words, "From henceforth thou shalt be called 
Sister Angela." 

But, even amid the Alleluias of that glorious Easter 
morning Sister Angela must have felt the burden which 
was so soon to fall upon her shoulders. No doubt she 
asked herself that day why her companions did not kneel 
at her side and with her receive the habit of St. Dominic. 
Why should she be the first to be clothed in the livery of 
penance and mortification ? Perhaps God answered. Who 
knows? But all the while He was preparing her for the 
primacy in that little band of Kentucky apostles as He had 
prepared St. Peter in the great band of long ago. To the 
triple question of Christ's "Lovest thou me?" she indeed 
could readily give as her answer, "Lord, Thou who know- 
est all things knowest that I love Thee." And then in the 
following memorable words of "Feed My Iambs, feed My 
sheep" authority seemed to rest upon the newly clothed 
religious, for in the afternoon of that Easter Sunday, Sister 
Angela was present in her own little chapel of logs dedi- 
cated to St. Mary Magdalen when the habit was given to 
three of her companions, Mary Carrico, Judith McMahon, 
and Severely Tarleton. From that time thenceforward 
she was looked upon as their leader, their guide, their 

Soon after the commencement of their novitiate, the sis- 
ters appealed to Father Wilson to appoint a superioress. 
Acting according to the spirit of the order, he advised that 
they choose from among their number the one who seemed 
best fitted to govern the new community. They were not 
long in making a decision, for they felt that no one was 
better fitted for such position than Sister Angela. Accord- 
ingly, she was elected Mother Prioress, Father Wilson 
applying to the Vicar General for a dispensation for her to 
make profession before the expiration of her year of novi- 
tiate. The dispensation was granted and Sister Angela pro- 


nouncccl her vows, January 6, 1823, and her election was 
confirmed by Rome, June 6, 1823. 

Following is the letter of confirmation addressed to 
Mother Angela and dated June 6, 1823 : 


To our beloved daughter in Christ, the virtuous 
Sister Angela Sansbury, professed religious of our col- 
lege of Saint Mary Magdalen, Third Order of Saint 
Dominic, Brother Thomas Wilson, Prior Provincial 
of the Province of Saint Joseph, Order of Saint* 

Whereas, by power of a rescript of His Holiness, 
Pius VII, a college of nuns of the Third Order of 
Saint Dominic has been erected in this neighborhood, 
and our weak endeavors blessed with some success ; it 
becomes a duty incumbent on me to provide for said 
religious college a legitimate constitutional head and 
superior. For which reason, being well acquainted 
with your exemplary conduct and zeal for regular dis- 
cipline, and moreover influenced by that affection which 
your virtuous sisters testified toward you on a former 
occasion when they petitioned to have you placed at 
the head of the community; therefore, said Brother 
Thomas Wilson, Prior Provincial, and, as above 
stated, by the authority of my office, and moreover 
especially empowered by His Holiness to that effect, 
do hereby declare, establish and confirm you, the said 
virtuous Sister Angela Sansbury, first prioress of our 
said college of Saint Mary Magdalen in the name of 
the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, 
Amen. I hereby give you all spiritual and temporal 
authority over said college and religious nuns, as all 
prioresses of our holy Order possess and our holy 
Constitution authorizes, and, though I never doubt of 
your perfect obedience and ready compliance with the 
will of God thus officially intimated to you, yet, for 


increase of merit and in conformity with the statute 
of our holy Order, I hereby enjoin you to accept and 
diligently to perform the said Office of prioress of 
Saint Mary Magdalen Community without demur. In 
virtue of holy obedience and under formal precept, 
commanding each and all of our said virtuous sisters 
under the same formal precept to acknowledge and 
respect you as their lawful superior and constitutional 
prioress before God. Hereby dispensing by my 
authority with all constitutional impediments to the 
contrary and prohibiting anyone to reclaim against our 
present arrangement. 

Given at Saint Rose in the presence of both com- 
munities under our hand and seal this sixth day of 
June, 1823. 



The enclosed patents were sealed and accepted 
June 6, 1823, at 8:30 o'clock A.M. 

To our beloved daughter in Christ, Sister Angela 

Once within the precincts of her convent home Mother 
Angela was to her associates a model of patience and Chris- 
tion confidence, as she had been a model of virtue and 
Christian propriety to her friends in the world. After her 
election she lost no time in beginning the work for which 
the order was established. The little convent building to 
the east of St. Rose was entirely too small for school pur- 
poses, so new quarters must be provided. Alexis Sansbury, 
who seemed to have played the part of a St. Joseph, since 
the days in Maryland, gave the much needed assistance. 
He presented to his daughters, Mother Angela and her sis- 
ter, now Sister Benven, a tract of land on which stood a 
large log house. Cartwright Creek which ran just in front 
of the building gave to the spot an enchanting beauty. On 
taking possession of the new convent, Mother Angela set 


about to make it habitable and even comfortable, that her 
sisters might be the better able to sing God's praises and 
instruct His little ones. In addition to the main building 
occupied by the religious, there stood on the grounds a 
second one, large enough for a school. Mother Angela 
with quick perception saw this and lost no time in fitting 
it up for the opening of classes. Homemade benches and 
desks were installed; books were collected, from what 
source Mother Angela alone could tell, for she seemed to 
have power to produce things out of nothing; and the first 
Dominican school in America was opened in July, 1823. 
The pupils that entered that summer morning numbered 
fifteen. Eagerly were they received by Mother Angela, 
who rejoiced in the opportunity of molding little hearts 
and souls to the likeness of Almighty God. 

Sacrifice and sufferings abounded in those sweet, early 
days at old St. Magdalen's. If the provisions deposited by 
pupils gave out before the close of the year, Mother Angela 
did not hesitate to take the sisters' scanty supplies to pro- 
vide the children with what was necessary. 

But when others were in despair, not knowing whence 
was to come the food for which they really hungered, 
Mother Angela never once lost courage, never doubted that 
God would provide for her community's needs. One day, 
it is told, the procuratrix went to her in distress. She had 
neither meat nor meal with which to prepare the midday 
repast Mother Angela looked at her reassuringly and 
said, "Be not troubled, good sister, God will provide." 
And so He did. Before the noon hour, a stranger brought 
to the convent a hundred-pound weight of choicest meat and 
begged the sisters to accept it as a gift. The kind hand of 
Providence always seemed near the first Dominicans of 

Mother Angela was a constant example of the charity 
and zeal which she was to promote. In the case of illness, 


there was nothing she did not do to relieve the suffering 
ones and there was no labor that she did not undertake to 
spare her sisters fatigue. In the inidst of all her hurried 
days she was always ready to attend to their wants or those 
of the children. Beloved and respected, she found it easy 
to introduce the spirit of gentleness and kindness in govern- 
ing so characteristic of the great St. Dominic, father- 
founder of the Order of Preachers, and the special patron 
of the Kentucky sisterhood. 

The community increased in number, and on August 30, 
1823, Mother Angela had the happiness of receiving the 
vows of her own sister, Elizabeth, together with those of 
four others who had completed their novitiate. The sisters 
were now following the rule and constitutions of the sisters 
of the Second Order, translated from the French by Father 
Wilson and modified to suit the conditions and needs of 
the times. The sisters rose at midnight to chant Matins 
and Lauds, and at four-thirty to the Benedicamus Domino 
they responded by the traditional Deo Gratias, and made 
ready to begin the day of work and prayer. Morning 
prayers, meditation, Prime, Mass, Tierce, and breakfast 
were begun, interrupted at ten o'clock by the recitation of 
Sext and None. After the midday meal the sisters enjoyed 
an hour's recreation. Vespers and Compline were said at 
four and night prayers at seven-thirty. Preceding night 
prayers a second recreation was held, but recreation only 
in the sense that the sisters' occupations were changed from 
the more laborious duties to those of spinning, weaving, or 
work with their needles. Yet those hours were the source 
of pleasure, refreshment, and spiritual joy. Mother 
Angela, always present, contributed her share of merri- 
ment and joy to cheer the often weary hearts of the sisters. 
Four times a week they recited the entire Office of the 
Dead. Although they themselves were living a very 
crowded life, they did not forget the dear departed, many 


of whom were resting in the first graves of Catholic Ken- 

With a day so given to spiritual exercises one might think 
that little time would be left for other occupations, but 
such was not the case. The work of teaching always occu- 
pied the first place in Mother Angela's mind. From the 
beginning she encouraged study and preparation on the part 
of those whose duty it was to instruct others. Every atten- 
tion was given to the training of the sisters for their work, 
and Father Wilson and Father Miles gave unsparingly of 
their time and learning in the cause of higher education. 

Joined to the labor of teaching was that of caring for 
the house and the cultivation of the fields. The sisters 
were their own carpenters, painters, and tinsmiths. Leaks 
in the roof were repaired by them, fences built, and trees 
felled. The fields were plowed and planted under their 
direction and the harvest carried on by their own hands. 
A crop required by the sisters was flax. When the seed 
had ripened the stalks were made into small bundles and 
then covered with water. Then began the laborious work 
of breaking the flax, a task usually done by the Kentucky 
men, for it was considered too difficult even for the sturdy 
women of pioneer days. But for years the Kentucky Domin- 
icans broke their own flax, and after weaving it on to big 
spools, they spent their winter days spinning it into the 
linen which was bleached when spring arrived. From the 
sale of the linen the sisters were able to net for themselves 
an income sufficient to make their labor worth while. From 
the wool obtained from the sheep of the farm they were 
able to make material for their own habits, and often a 
surplus brought them a revenue that could be turned to 
good account. 

Thus the first Dominican years in Kentucky had been a 
period of continual labor and preparation, of which one is 
able now to appreciate the meaning and understand the 


secret purpose. There can be recognized in all this the 
hand of Providence in a succession of events and circum- 
stances, unaccountable in the eyes of the world, but fully 
justified by the designs of God. Educational advantages 
and training altogether exceptional were the products of a 
vocation to a life of sacrifice sprung up in a land as yet 
hardly civilized. Here a noble heart was bent on serving 
both God and man even though such a life meant trials, 
separation from the world, austere discipline, and a morti- 
fied, obscure, and laborious existence. The heart of St. 
Dominic was revealed to one of his sons, and God's will 
was declared to a humble maid who responded to the call 
of the Master and declared herself "His handmaid." All 
elements of the work were, if one may so speak, ready 
prepared by Providence for its realization the thought 
and inspiration which gave birth to it, the instrument 
required, the workman who was to take it in hand. It 
remained only for the Divine Architect, who formed and 
fashioned each separate stone of the temple which His 
wisdom had planned, to unite and combine them for His 
greater glory; and this was being accomplished by Mother 
Angela and her first Dominican companions. 

As soon as her means would allow, Mother Angela began 
the building of a chapel. When completed, it was no monu- 
ment to architectural skill, but it was a lasting witness to 
heroic faith, sincere hope, and ardent love. No cathedral, 
however richly adorned, resounded to the praise of more 
fervent souls than did St. Mary Magdalen's in the forest. 
From His tabernacle in the wilds the Prisoner of Love 
looked down upon members of a struggling community who 
were willing to endure the greatest hardships and sufferings 
in order that He might become better known and better 
loved by the pioneers who were around them. First Domin- 
ican sanctuary built by the love of American women, how 
fitting it is that to-day it is enshrined within the walls of 


the new St. Mary Magdalen chapel, which has been erected 
in the cemetery where those Kentucky pioneers of God are 
sleeping. It is a lasting testimonial to their faith, and hope, 
and boundless love for Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar I 

With the growing prosperity of the period, Mother 
Angela saw a great increase in the enrollment of the school. 
As early as 1823 it was evident that a larger building would 
be needed to accommodate the pupils. But work as hard 
as the sisters would and economize as they did, sufficient 
funds were not available. Mother Angela, however, 
recalled how their first great need for a building had been 
so graciously supplied. This time, too, she felt that an 
appeal to the people of Kentucky would bring a generous 
response and with her usual energy she undertook a drive 
for funds. The campaign w r as not managed by financiers 
as such campaigns are to-day, but by Mother Angela and 
her associates. Two by two the sisters made a visitation 
of the country. Sometimes they knocked at the doors of 
their own homes after they had approached the houses of 
strangers. But no matter where they went, an enthusiastic 
welcome was given their appeal. At the close of the cam- 
paign, all but a few thousand dollars of the necessary 
amount had been raised. The new building was begun 
immediately, and in 1825 it was ready for the opening of 

But if God had favored the growth of the little com- 
munity the blessing was to be purchased at a great price. 
Mother Angela had endured much in the foundation of 
the sisterhood, but soon greater trials and sorrows were 
to pierce her soul. Disappointments and vexations were 
to rack the very existence of the community she had 
labored so zealously to establish. Another soul, less noble, 
would have sunk beneath the burden, but to her the afflic- 
tions sent by Divine Providence were the "pearls of great 
price," that were being scattered for her own sanctification 


and for the final good of her little institute. The great 
trial began with the appointment of Father Fenwick as 
Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the withdrawal of Father 
Miles as first chaplain of the sisterhood. When the bishop 
assumed the leadership of the Church in Ohio in 1822, he 
perceived the need of missionary assistance from his Domin- 
ican brethren of Kentucky. Knowing the great worth of 
Father Miles and not realizing the loss it would be to the 
sisters of the St. Magdalen convent, he called the priest 
to the northern diocese, which then embraced the entire 
state of Ohio and nearly all the northwest. With fearful 
hearts the sisters saw their chaplain leave them, for not 
only were they being deprived of spiritual direction but 
they were losing his counsel in regard to the great financial 
problems that were facing them. Father Wilson, the prior 
at St. Rose, had sustained the sisters in all their endeavors 
to meet this great responsibility, but upon his death and 
the removal of Father Miles it became apparent to the 
sisters that they must bear their cross alone and, at the 
same time, accept an added tribulation in the opposition 
shown them by their new Superior, Father Munos, a Span- 
ish Dominican who had succeeded to the office of prior of 
St. Rose Monastery. Not acquainted with the purpose 
and aims of the newly founded congregation of women 
close by, the new prior was from the first opposed to its 
existence. In his native country, the monastic life for nuns 
was vastly different from that which existed in America. 
He opposed the life led by Mother Angela and her sisters 
not because he wished to oppose religion, but rather 
because he disliked to see these women endure the hard- 
ships of the new country with, as it seemed to him, such 
little results. The educational demands of his native coun- 
try were so different from those of a free government, that 
he little realized the education of the children of the people 
to be the hope 'of the Catholic Church in America. As a 


result of this attitude he began at once to frown upon the 
work of the Dominicans at St. Catherine's and advised the 
members of the community to disband and return to their 
homes. When he learned that there was a debt upon the 
school and that Father Miles, in signing the note, had left 
St. Rose responsible for the obligation, he was more deter- 
mined than ever upon dispersing the sisters. He insisted 
that they sell the land, pay their obligations to their cred- 
itors, and return to the homes from whence they came. 

Mother Angela was overwhelmed by the proposed 
arrangement. It would be hard to tell which afflicted her 
most, the inevitable privation of spiritual assistance that 
would result if they did not comply with the wishes of 
Father Mufios, or the immense loss to religion and to 
Christian education if they met his demands. She recalled 
with gratitude to an All Merciful Providence that in seven 
years the community had more than doubled. The new 
school building afforded ample room for the growing enroll- 
ment and all indications pointed to even greater prosperity. 
And most and best of all, the sisters were happy in their 
vocation, joyful beyond imagination in their service to the 
King. Mother Angela realized that there was a great debt, 
but she considered this as God's blessing on the community. 
In vain did she strive to impress this upon the mind of 
Father Mufios; in vain did she assure him that the debt 
would be paid without the assistance of St. Rose. But the 
more she implored, the more determined was the priest 
that the sisters should sell their property and return to the 
world. Mother Angela would not agree to such a tragedy, 
for she knew that it was God who had called the Kentucky 
Dominicans to the religious life. Father Wilson had 
secured the approval of the Holy See for the community 
and as long as it was faithful to the purpose for which it 
had been organized it could not be disbanded. Encouraged 
by this approval, Mother Angela was the rock to which 


the sisters clung, that their existence might not be blotted 

When Father Mufios saw that the sisterhood was 
as one in not disbanding, he thought to try the vocations 
of its members by depriving them of Mass and Holy 
Communion in their own chapel. Compelled to attend 
services in the parish church, the sisters carried their cross 
up the hill to St. Rose for daily Mass, returning with 
greater strength and fortitude to their convent in the valley 
which this great trial had made a thousand times more dear 
a home. Soon the trouble was noised abroad and with 
each repetition of the story, the situation looked more hope- 
less. The creditors became alarmed, began to demand pay- 
ment, and finally appealed to Bishop Fenwick for a settle- 
ment of the debt. Burdened with his own cares, and miles 
away from the scene of the disturbance, the bishop thought 
it best to have the Master General of the order authorize 
Father Mufios to sell the monastery where the sisters dwelt, 
"together with two or three pieces of property belonging 
to Saint Rose" as necessity demanded, in order that the 
debt might be canceled. Following is a copy of the letter 
written to the superior general of the order, the Most 
Reverend Joachim Briz. The letter is dated October 19, 

Most Reverend Father: Because the office of Com- 
missary General of the Order of Saint Dominic, for 
these United States of America, has been entrusted to 
me, I have transacted many things for the good of the 
Order, all of which I have accurately stated to your 
Paternity in former letters. Now, indeed, I am com- 
pelled to write particularly of the condition of the 
Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, so that 
something may be done to assist them. 

Your Reverend Paternity knows that seventeen 
young ladies, professed according to the Rule of the 


Thin! Order, and consonant with the institute of our 
Holy Father Saint Dominic, lead a common life in a 
certain house or monastery, near Saint Rose Convent, 
in the Province or State of Kentucky, after the fashion 
and example of nuns, although bound only by simple 
vows. Because of the withdrawal to the Cincinnati 
Diocese of the Rev. Augustine J. Hill, who had assisted 
Father Wilson in organizing them, the Rev. R. P. 
Miles was placed in charge of them by the authority 
of the Very Rev. Provincial, Father Wilson. 

From money obtained, for the most part from col- 
lections, a house sufficiently large and commodious was 
erected some years ago, so that the Sisters might 
devote themselves to the work of instructing young 
women in the rudiments of letters and religion. On 
account of this and other necessary causes, a debt was 
contracted. The needs of the faithful in my diocese 
constrained me to call thence Rev. R..P. Miles, who, 
in his name, but for the Sisters, had contracted a debt 
of two thousand dollars. I have entrusted to him the 
care of souls in this diocese of Cincinnati, trusting that 
the Very Rev. Father Munos, whom I had appointed 
Prior at Saint Rose Convent, would provide for the 
wants of the Sisters, in temporal as well as spiritual 

I have learned, however, and with sadness, that he 
thinks it pertains to his office neither to look after them 
himself, nor to commit the care of them to another, 
and hence it is that the sisters are very often unable 
to carry out the duties of religion, and are meanwhile 
burdened with great want. No small detriment affects 
the honor of our Order as long as they remain in such 
great debt. Although the debt is entirely a debt of 
the sisters, it was contracted for them in the name of 
the above mentioned priest, who can be summoned 
before the public tribunals and even committed to 
prison. No other means occurs to me for avoiding 
so great an evil except the sale of the monastery where 


dwell the sisters, together with the farm, pertaining 
to it, the sisters, of course, moving elsewhere. 

It is easy to imagine the displeasure and rancor that 
will arise should this be done, because many of the 
faithful who have given money for the erection of the 
building will be displeased if the place is offered for 
sale. Nevertheless, so great and pressing are the 
wants of the sisters, and so urgent the necessity of 
liquidating this debt that I think they will consent to it 
rather willingly. Still, an amount of money, sufficient 
to pay all the creditors cannot be expected from the 
sale. Therefore, I think it necessary, the authority 
of your Paternity having been obtained, to sell some 
property belonging to Saint Rose Convent so that the 
deficit may be made up. Perhaps it may seem unjust 
to take anything from the fathers of this convent, but 
it behooves us to remember that the sisters left the 
world on the advice and exhortation of the fathers and 
have been thrown into their hard lot by the work they 
have undertaken. Is it not better to avoid infamy and 
litigation even with the detriment of some good work, 
when, at the same time, the misery of the sisters will 
be relieved? In my diocese, there is no place where 
they could be received, unless, for a time, perhaps, on 
a certain portion of the farm occupied by our fathers 
near Somerset, and adjoining the church of Saint 
Joseph. I am willing to place them there until a favor- 
able opportunity arises of locating them in places, 
where, by the example of their virtues in which they 
excel, and also by the Christian education of young 
women, they may promote the interests of religion. 

I therefore, ask your Paternity that, by your pre- 
cept, you will command that no obstacle be placed in 
the way of the things I may attempt for the relief of 
the Sisters; that I may enjoy full and free right to sell 
the monastery in which dwell the sisters, and also the 
farm pertaining to it, together with two or more pieces 
of property, as necessity demands, so that the debt 


which burdens the sisters may be liquidated, to transfer 
them to another place, or to establish them on the 
above mentioned land near the church of Saint Joseph, 
in the State of Ohio, until some provision can be made 
for them. In this way, I trust that Rev. Pius Miles, 
who, whilst at the head of the sisters, bound himself 
in his own handwriting to the payment of the entire 
debt, may be enabled to devote himself to his sacred 
duties without molestation from the creditors; that the 
sisters may be delivered from want and worry and 
devote themselves to, and observe with greater dili- 
gence and fervor the institute they have embraced. A 
great solicitude in their regard presses upon me, 
because they are more than two hundred miles from 
my Episcopal city and, for this reason, it is most incon- 
venient for me to go to them because of the distance, 
the cost of the journey, and especially the utter lack 
of any means contributed by the faithful. I expect an 
early reply from your Most Rev. Paternity for the 
affair can now permit of no delay. In the meantime, 
I profess from my heart to be to your Paternity, 
Your most humble and obedient servant, 
Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio. 
And Vic. Gen. P. S. J, 

Given at Baltimore, October 10, 1829. 

I am here on account of the Provincial Council. 

Postscript. Since writing the above, it came to my 
mind to ask your Paternity if it would be more advisa- 
ble for the sisters, under the present circumstances, to 
disperse their community for awhile and devote them- 
selves to the various duties in my diocese, since they 
would fulfill the same tasks as the Sisters of Charity, 
founded by Saint Vincent de Paul, to devote themselves 
to the education of young women in both letters and 
religion, and who in this work throughout this region, 
enjoy the full approbation and joyous commendation of 


the Bishop, the entire body of the laity, and even of the 
Protestants. Should this be permitted by your Rev- 
erend Paternity, I pray that you allow the sisters to 
assume the habit of black color, until circumstances 
being changed for the better, they may be again united 
in their former monastery. I propose this all the more 
freely to your Reverend Paternity, since they are but 
members of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. 

To the Most Reverend Master General of the 
Friars Preachers, Rome, Italy. 

In arranging all these matters, and although wishing to 
remedy the existing conditions, the Dominican fathers, 
strange to say, did not take into consideration the feelings 
or the wishes of the sisters. Bishop Fenwick, it is true, 
proposed to transfer them to Ohio, but he did not consult 
them as to whether or not they wished to go. While these 
arrangements were being made, Mother Angela went stead- 
ily forward. All of the sisters were unanimous in declar- 
ing that neither would they disband nor yet allow their 
monastery to be sold. St. Dominic must have looked down 
with joy and pride upon his daughters of Kentucky, 
and they must have been as pleasing to him as were 
his first daughters of Prouille. St. Catherine, too, must 
have imparted some of the determination to that heroic 
soul that stood at the head of the little band, for no 
one shall ever know how near the courage of Mother 
Angela was to the breaking point these days of trials and 

Finally, the sisters decided that they would pay their 
debt and that without selling the monastery. Accordingly, 
every article of furniture or salable object not absolutely 
necessary was disposed of. Mother Angela saw the year 
1830 dawn on greater poverty than they had experienced 
at any time during their existence. There would have been 
some consolation even in this great poverty had the debt 


been completely raised, hut this, in spite of their great sac- 
rifice, was not possible. But just as (iod sent Joseph of 
Arimathea to the assistance of the holy women at the foot 
of the cross when the great crisis came, He sent to Mother 
Angela and her sorrowing sisters one who was to under- 
stand and comfort them, and give them a new existence. 
This was the Reverend Stephen Montgomery, who had 
been appointed Prior of St. Rose. Father Montgomery 
was a native of Kentucky and knew the conditions of pio- 
neer life. He knew, too, under what circumstances St. 
Catherine's had been founded and he was determined that 
it and its great work for Christ should not pass away. 
His faith in Mother Angela's ability was unquestioning and 
with promptness and zeal he began at once to relieve the 
situation. He set about immediately to collect money for 
the payment of the debt. Never did the sun rise more 
glorious in Kentucky than it did that following Easter 
morning when the sisters realized their obligation to public 
creditors was canceled, and that they were still in posses- 
sion of their early convent home. 

New light was breaking. God was pleased with the 
heroic fortitude of Mother Angela and her Dominican 
daughters. Bishop Fenwick never lost the 'veneration he 
had held for the little community, for even when he pro- 
posed the sale of their property he had in mind a home for 
them in his own diocese. In 1830, just after the crisis had 
passed, he solicited a foundation of the sisters for Somer- 
set, Ohio, where the Dominican fathers had been estab- 
lished since 1818. And Mother Angela responded gener- 
ously to the call of the Bishop. 

It is seldom given to one woman, no matter how courage- 
ous and zealous, to found two mother houses. But such 
was Mother Angela's happy privilege, for out of the 
branch house established in 1830, at Somerset, Ohio, the 
mother house of the Dominican sisters of St. Mary of the 


Springs, Columbus, was to develop. Before accepting 
Bishop Fenwick's request for sisters, Mother Angela con- 
sidered well the question before Jesus in the Tabernacle. 
The distance was great, the thought of separation from 
those who had sustained her in the dark hour of trial cost 
her keen suffering* But the good that would be accom- 
plished overpowered the affections of her tender heart and 
she prayerfully selected the sisters who were to form the 
first band of missionary Dominicans in America. In mak- 
ing the sacrifice of her sisters, Mother Angela made it com- 
plete and selected her own sister, Sister Benven Sansbury! 
With her she sent Sister Agnes Harbin, Sister Catherine 
Mudd, and Sister Emily Elder. The sisters bade farewell 
to their beloved Kentucky, to Mother Angela, and to their 
companions of St. Mary Magdalen convent. Mother 
Angela addressed words of encouragement to them and 
begged God's blessings on their journey and on their labors. ' 
She followed them in spirit and in prayer along their peril- 
ous journey, made in the midst of winter, over almost 
impassable roads, and lasting a number of weeks as they 
traveled toward Somerset. In Cincinnati, the missionaries 
were kindly received by Bishop Fenwick. He rejoiced to 
see that the "mustard seed" planted less than ten years 
before had not only taken root, but had sent out its first 
branch, and that into his own diocese. When the news of 
Bishop Fenwick's kind reception to the sisters was received 
by Mother Angela, she blessed God that her children would 
have the protection of so kind a prelate, and if there had 
been any misgivings as to the outcome of the undertaking, 
they speedily disappeared. And all the while the sisters 
at the mother house prayed for the success of the enterprise 
and in spirit shared in the privations and sufferings of the 
first Dominican days in the State of Ohio. 

Shortly after the departure of the- sisters for Somerset 
Mother Angela's health began to fail, and to relieve her 


of the burdens which she so longed to lay aside, the sisters, 
during the summer of 1830, chose Sister Magdalen Edelen 
as prioress. With a happy heart Mother Angela took her 
place among the sisters. Her joy, however, did not last 
long, for on April 23, 1833, she was again called to the 
office of prioress, not of her first foundation, but that of 
St. Mary's, in Ohio. She bade farewell to the sisters in 
Kentucky and turned her eyes to the new home in the north 
where she showed the same heroic spirit and gave to that 
infant community the same inspiration that had made the 
work in the South so successful. For six years, Mother 
Angela held the office of prioress, but the strain of con- 
tinuous labor had so undermined her health that on Novem- 
ber 30, 1839, she passed away. Great was the grief at 
St. Mary's, Somerset, that day; greater still, it might be 
said, was the sorrowing at the old home in Kentucky. 

Of Mother Angela, it has been said she was one of those 
rare natures in which sweetness and strength are blended 
with exquisite nicety; yet somehow those who remember 
her declare that one saw the sweetness first and remembered 
it longest. Those who clothed her with the religious habit, 
recognizing this dominant note in her perfectly attuned 
character, had named her Angela. Prayer and mortifica- 
tion were the all-powerful means by which she accomplished 
everything, pursuing her way with unvarying sweetness, not- 
withstanding all the difficulties of first foundations. First 
to embrace the mystic death of the cloister, she was also 
first of the white-robed band to claim the hundredfold of 
her sacrifice. Her remains lie in the center of the little 
cemetery at St. Mary's of the Springs and above them is 
an ivy-covered cross ; but the ivy does not cling more closely 
around this sacred symbol of man's redemption than does 
the memory of the present generation of Dominican sisters 
to the life of Mother Angela. Although the written rec- 
ords of what Mother Angela said and did are not numer- 


ous, tradition has kept the story of her virtues a liv- 
ing reality in thousands of volunteers of the Crucified. 
The ever-increasing number of Dominican sisters in Amer- 
ica who are carrying on the work she began in the 
wilderness of Kentucky is the truest monument to the great- 
ness of this woman. To-day the Dominican sisters are 
established in practically every State of the Union. Besides 
the convents founded directly by the Sisters of St. Cathe- 
rine's Kentucky, Mother Angela Sansbury's daughters have 
influenced directly or indirectly the beginning and develop- 
ment of many other Dominican sisterhoods in America. 
At present they are teaching in parochial schools, academies, 
and colleges, where thousands of little children are the 
recipients of that love and devotion which caused Marie 
Sansbury to break the ties of human affection for the love 
and glory of Jesus Christ. 

The world in general cannot understand the mystery of 
this self-immolation, but, sensible of its good results, honors 
it and those whom it actuates. It should regard the sainted 
Angela Sansbury as one of America's greatest women, for 
if to-day due recognition is given the Dominican sisters 
throughout the country for their leadership in the field of 
education and as true exemplars of the religious life, it is 
because they are faithful to what Mother Angela, in the 
larger hope, began in the little log cabin in the wilderness 
of Kentucky. 



IN steadfast endurance of heroic sacrifice, in high moral 
strength which was undismayed and unmoved in the presence 
of overwhelming odds, in power to rise superior to personal 
grief in the realization of the call of duty, Mother Mary 
Francis Clarke has been surpassed by few women. A native 
of Ireland, her parents were Cornelius Clarke, a prosperous 
dealer in leather, and Mary Quartemas, the daughter of an 
English Quakeress. Both were distinguished for piety and 
for the practice of the highest Christian virtues and gen- 
erous charity toward the poor and suffering. When in 
expectation of the birth of their first child they decided to 
call it Catherine should God bless them with a daughter, 
but in a dream the young mother learned that the name 
should be Mary. The child was born in Dublin, March 2, 
1803, and in baptism at the Marlborough Street Church the 
Franciscan father who performed the ceremony added the 
name Francis, in honor of the patron of his order. As the 
child grew, her devotion to St. Francis and her love of great 
virtue and humility became conspicuous. She was the eldest 
of four children, and in their happy home surrounded by 
comforts they were carefully trained, receiving a good edu- 
cation and enjoying exceptional facilities for progress in 
study. In the height of her father's marked financial suc- 
cess, a destructive fire swept away his resources, and his 
anxiety was succeeded by an illness from which he arose 
only to be a helpless invalid the rest of his life. For some 
years after this disaster the responsibility of her father's 
business cares was assumed by Mary Francis, whose clear 



mind, decision of manner, industry, and care restored the 
interrupted prosperity. 

It was hard to find release from this duty to follow the 
call of vocation, but her sisters, Catherine and Martha, 
offered to take her tasks and thus leave their sister free. 

The life of Mary Francis Clarke is so inextricably bound 
up in the Institute founded by her, that they are inseparable; 
the life of one is truly that of the other. The history of the 
community goes back to the humble beginning in Dublin, in 
the early years of the nineteenth century, a time eventful 
in the building up of the material edifice of the Church and 
in the restoration of Catholic society. Echoes of the French 
Revolution still resounded; recognition of the Independence 
of the American Colonies was a hope-inspiring memory; 
and to the Irish, after a long and persistent struggle, after 
obloquy and imprisonment, exile and death, some relief had 
come. A better day had dawned, yet the cruelty and op- 
pression were not forgotten. Many were the evenings 
when the groups around the fireside spoke of naught else 
than the stirring scenes it had been given the elders of the 
families to see. To these tales of heroism, of fidelity to 
God and country, the children ^ere interested, sympathetic 
listeners. The tremendous sufferings of their friends and 
kinsfolk, the bitter injustice of it all, went to their very 
hearts. Their spirit of compassion was aroused, and to 
many a child came the impulse, the desire to do in its turn 
what it could, to devote itself to the suffering and the needy 
for Christ's dear sake. 

For the Church this had been a sorrowful time, but 
while destruction had done its disastrous work, God had 
scattered, among the ruins, seeds that were now about to 
produce fresh blossoms. The season of awakening hope 
ushered in a period of religious activity that for ardent zeal 
was remarkable even in that land of apostolic vocations, so 
famed for the exalted piety and the generous self-sacrifice 


of its devoted children. Ample scope was there for the 
untiring work of all; charity had a wide field for relieving 
the wants of soul and body among the poor and the afflicted. 

Suffering there was in many forms, but the keenest suffer- 
ing of the time was the lack of educational means. Laws, 
however iniquitous and far-reaching, had never destroyed 
the desire of the people to obtain the blessing of education, 
had never crushed their reverence for worthy ideals. 
Though illiterate, many of them, they were not ignorant; 
they wanted education for their children, education which 
would develop moral as well as intellectual men and women. 
True, the government had established schools, but these 
were a menace to the Faith. From the penal prohibition of 
all Catholic teaching, to schools of open proselytism, thence 
to a system in which the purpose was more cleverly con- 
cealed, there was only a question of degree, or a difference 
in the method of reaching the one fixed purpose, that of 
making them traitors to their faith. But the watchful 
guardians of the flock had exposed the danger. To Catho- 
lics must be entrusted the education of Catholic children, 
though to secure Catholic teachers was no easy matter. 

But God was with His people; He saw their need. Al- 
most simultaneously sprang up new workers, new associa- 
tions, new Institutes or Congregations, all blended in a 
manner by the spirit of union and affection, and encouraged 
and maintained by the faithful. Dublin was prolific in reli- 
gious foundations. Archbishop Murray with his spiritual 
insight discerned, in the members of the Institutes that 
sprang into being at this time, elect souls, providentially 
placed under his guidance, and in every way fitted for the 
work he and they had so much at heart. With generous 
encouragement he fostered their development, recognizing 
that sudden blossoming of the spiritual garden as a gracious 
though unexpected answer to a prayer for aid from above. 
The Irish Sisters of Charity were established in that city in 


1817; the Loretto Nuns in 1822, and the Sisters of Mercy 
in 1831. 

The need of the hour was a teaching body unrestricted by 
the law of enclosure, a body uniting the active ministration 
of Martha with the inner life of Mary. The lines of such 
an Institute have since become familiar in the modern reli- 
gious congregations, but they were then the rare exception. 
God was already summoning recruits from among His 
chosen ones, for purposes not yet known to the world nor 
to themselves. Many generous souls were there to whom 
came the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Among them 
were the five young women who constituted the nucleus of 
a new Institute, Mary Francis Clarke and her companions. 
In apparently fortuitous ways the closer association of these 
young girls began. 

It was not a rare thing in those days, for young girls 
debarred from the cloister by age or duty, to be affiliated 
to the religious orders. Confraternities and societies 
brought the faithful together in a bond of religious emula- 
tion which cannot easily be imagined. Affiliation consisted 
in sharing the prayers and penances of the religious, and 
in conforming to their rule, spirit, and dress, in certain 
points, on condition of participating in their merits and 
good works. Bound only by such promises as tertiaries 
were allowed to make, discharging all the duties of their 
place in the family, and distinguished only by their devotion 
to the suffering poor, and by the avoidance of all worldly 
pleasures and amusements, they made of their home as 
much of a cloister as the performance of all neighborly 
charities and the fulfillment of their duties permitted. As 
members of such sodalities, Mary Francis Clarke and her 
associates were enrolled ; and in this they were doing more 
than they dreamed. They were unconsciously taking the 
first step toward that state of life which they were later 
called to embrace, although under a very different form, 


and toward which an invisible hand was beginning to incline 
their hearts and direct the current of their lives. In the 
exercise of charity to the needy they were closely associated, 
and interchange of ideas showed a unity of purpose, re- 
vealed but one spirit animating them, a desire to attain to 
holiness and to do good to their fellow creatures, thereby 
to serve God more earnestly. 

Their ministration to the victims of the cholera, which 
devastated the city in 1831, brought about frequent meet- 
ings. Constant association strengthened the ties of friend- 
ship, and as a means of increasing their facilities for char- 
itable labors among their destitute clients, and for lending 
aid and encouragement to one another, they secured for a 
few months a cottage in the suburbs of the busy city. This 
was done with the full approval of their parents; there was 
as yet no severance of home ties, all returned to their homes 
at stated times. On the eves of festivals and on Sundays 
they met at the cottage and conferred about the charitable 
works of the week. Likewise they strengthened one another 
in their desire to lead the higher life, failing not to improve 
this season of prosperity in acquiring greater spiritual 
strength and more substantial holiness. To this little her- 
mitage they betook themselves for the first time on the 
feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1831. 

When the pestilence had subsided, there was still further 
opportunity for active charity. Visits to the plague-stricken 
had brought vividly to their notice another wide field for 
activities. The widespread menace to the faith was the 
prevailing evil of the day; the crying need then, as now, 
was religious instruction for children. To this work they 
turned their attention in leisure moments; then, nourished 
by prayerful consideration and by a holy interchange of 
thought and purpose, the idea grew and strengthened. At 
first they instructed some children in the neighborhood whom 
the evil times had deprived of the opportunity of attending 


catechism and other classes, and the happy results of their 
efforts were encouraging. The few hours daily which they 
at first allotted for this duty, lengthened. Children came to 
them in crowds for instruction, and the spiritual destitution, 
not less than the wretchedness of the poverty that sur- 
rounded these little ones, made caring for them a true char- 
ity. Religious instruction was the first and most important 
exercise; needlework and the singing of simple hymns sup- 
plemented the ordinary elementary studies. 

To this work their earlier duties had led them step by 
step, and they recognized unmistakably that this was their 
special province. Their spiritual directors gave it warmest 
approbation, and encouraged them to proceed, promising 
God's blessing on the work. Having- besought the light 
and grace of the Holy Spirit, and fortified with the blessing 
of Heaven upon their enterprise, they determined to con- 
tinue, and prepared for this active apostleship by strength- 
ening their minds with careful study. In addition to human 
sciences they read the works of sacred and ecclesiastical 
authors, and the masters of the spiritual life. In the happy 
lot to which Providence had assigned them, the blessing of 
education had not been withheld. Mary Frances Clarke 
developed gifts of a high order under the tutorship of her 
kinsman, Mr. Matherson ; and her companions were not less 

Gradually they lessened their intercourse with the world, 
effected a more complete separation from it, and slowly 
their plans matured. At about this time they were joined 
by a Mrs. Berkley, the childless widow of a British army 
officer, who had at her disposal an ample annuity, and who 
generously offered herself for the work. She proved to be 
a valuable assistant and a worthy subject for the life they 
had embraced, spending all her time at the little hermitage, 
attending to it when the others were called elsewhere. The 
house in the suburbs was soon found to be unsuited for their 


developed purposes, and having cast about for a more favor- 
able location, they decided upon a house in North Ann 
Street, and removed thither early in March, 1832. A con- 
siderable outlay was required to make the building suitable 
for their needs, and to provide the necessary school supplies. 
Nothing daunted them, however, and they proceeded to 
arrange a little oratory in their new dwelling as their first 

Here school opened March 19, 1832, the feast of their 
patron St. Joseph, and their success was immediate and 
pronounced. The number of pupils was far in excess of 
their expectation. The patronage came largely from the mid- 
dle-class, those whose means forbade the sending of their 
children to convent schools, and who were yet too proud 
to send them to the so-called "poor schools." No effort 
was spared to make the work succeed, and these strivings 
were not made in vain. All went well. The various pas- 
tors gave to the work their blessing and approbation, and 
with words of praise and frequent visits to the school were 
a strength and happiness to teachers and pupils. The 
doorplate of the North Ann Street school is still preserved 
with care; it reads: "Miss Clarke's School." 

There was no distinction of superiority among the sisters, 
for so they called themselves even then, but there was never- 
theless a tacit agreement that Mary Francis Clarke was 
higher than the others in point of sanctity. Silence and 
peace were the outward characteristics of the place which 
was instinct with life and vigor; and closer attention to a 
well-prepared plan made them approach more nearly the 
religious life they loved. This was a time of prayer, study, 
labor. Already they were called the Nuns of North Ann 
Street, although they wore no distinctive dress; their plain 
attire was in keeping with the serious nature of their 

Great was their happiness when the Most Reverend Arch- 


bishop Murray permitted them to have the Blessed Sacra- 
ment reserved in their private chapel. On August 6, 1832, 
holy Mass was celebrated for the first time in their little 
retreat, and the joy of the sisters was shared by their par- 
ents and friends who gathered there on that solemn occa- 
sion to thank God for this great gift of His presence among 
them. The chaplain appointed was a priest from the dio- 
cese of Philadelphia who was spending some time in Ireland 
hoping to benefit his impaired health. 

Time passed quickly. The Christmas holidays of 1832 
had come and gone; the eventful year 1833 had dawned. 
The sisters had now made a practical test of community 
life and were convinced that the blessing of religious voca- 
tion was theirs. They saw that the work of teaching could 
be best accomplished by those who devoted their lives to 
God in religion, and they recognized that it was possible 
to spiritualize the external labors of charity by methods 
borrowed from the cloister. They longed to prepare for 
religious vows. 

In the spring of 1833 their chaplain's health having im- 
proved, he decided to return to Philadelphia. He had 
spoken frequently of the great need of Catholic teachers 
in America, and especially in his own diocese where the tide 
of emigration was bringing a stream of Catholics. He urged 
the sisters to accompany him to Philadelphia. He appealed 
to their zeal and fervor ; he dwelt upon the merit that must 
accrue to those who would lend themselves to an under- 
taking so dear to the heart of Jesus. He assured them that 
they would receive warm welcome into the diocese of Phil- 
adelphia, and that he would gladly arrange the necessary 
preliminaries of their introduction to the Right Reverend 
Bishop. He spoke with such extraordinary and admirable 
fervor that he communicated to them his enthusiasm. To 
his appeal, however, no hasty answer was given. The sis- 
ters thanked God for this new opportunity of doing good, 


and begged for grace to he guided aright in their decision. 
When the proposition had been many times repeated, they 
sought the advice of certain prudent friends who decided 
that, from a spiritual point of view, acceptance would be 
heroic; in any other light it would be a serious blunder. 

At this time their school was a success; their spiritual 
needs were provided for; peace and, to a certain extent, 
affluence, surrounded them. Field for their activity was 
round about them. Why abandon a certain good for a 
doubtful better? They studied and discussed the chaplain's 
plans, seriously examining the reasons urging them, 
maturely weighing the measures proposed. After fervent 
prayer and careful deliberation there remained only the 
spirit of sacrifice to communicate life to the plan, for they 
knew that difficulties, privations, and sufferings were inevi- 
table. Every one pledged to the work of saving souls must 
expect to suffer if the ministry is to be profitable. All seem 
to know this, yet when it comes to the exercise how few are 
found with magnanimity enough to stand the test. A Kem- 
pis says : "Many there are who are willing to sit with Christ 
at His table, few to share the ignominy of the Cross." But 
Mary Francis Clarke and her first sisters were among this 
chosen few. The question of leaving home was a momen- 
tous one. Their ardent souls were fired with holy enthusi- 
asm; their hearts were stirred with inspiration. Their 
favorite novena to the Blessed Virgin was made with all 
the fervor of their hearts, and to their patron St. Joseph 
their united petitions arose. At Holy Communion God 
spoke to their hearts. When they arose from prayer, their 
decision was made. They would go to America. For 
Christ's dear sake they would sacrifice their sweet peace 
and the comforts of home ; they would toil among strangers 
and bear cheerfully the trials they foresaw. Theirs was 
not a spirit to quail when trouble, when dangers threatened. 
They would go. God willed it; they knew it with certainty 


and hesitated no longer. But, though they knew it not, at 
the same moment in far-off Philadelphia, other prayers were 
said for the same intention; that God in His mercy would 
send efficacious aid to perfect a plan promising help for 
souls and glory to God. It was the prayer of a devoted 
priest, Reverend Terence James Donaghoe, who saw the 
need of Catholic education for the children of his parish, 
and who was anxious to secure the services of sisters for 
their blessed undertaking. He awaited confidently God's 
answer to a prayer for help in the welfare of souls. Thus 
were the sisters preparing for an end as yet unknown; thus 
were the instruments gathered for the hand of the Master 

God mercifully favored the enterprise. All doubt and 
hesitation disappeared and strength was given to them, 
enabling them to correspond with the light they had re- 
ceived. No record remains of the exact date when th'ey ar- 
rived at their determination, but the resolution once made, 
they prepared to act. The decision to go to Philadelphia 
was received by their chaplain with every mark of satisfac- 
tion. He would precede them, he said, attend to all neces- 
sary preliminaries, and meet them upon their arrival. Thus 
with minute directions as to the journey, and with every 
detail carefully planned, with every possible discomfort pro- 
vided against, he bade them farewell. They were the more 
inclined to regard their inspiration as an answer to prayer, 
since they sought no temporal joy, but on the contrary could 
have in view only hard work and privation of all earthly 
comforts. In peace and tranquillity they had prayed; in 
patience and humility they waited until the will of God was 
made manifest to them. The voice of the Holy Spirit whis- 
pered to them of the glory, the delight of leaving all things 
to follow Christ. 

Various opinions wfcre expressed regarding the undertak- 
ing. Parents of the children whom they taught were dis- 


appointed that the very satisfactory work was to be dis- 
continued. The pupils were grieved at losing the teachers 
whom they had learned to love. Sincere friends spoke of 
the dangers that threatened in a strange land, of the dis- 
tance, of the voyage which in itself was perilous. Many 
even characterized the step as a rash venture and the result 
of deception. Indeed their strength of will in thus facing 
the unknown is to us inexplicable, but to them, the impulse, 
as they have often told it, was more evident than if a pillar 
of cloud had guided them. Others spoke of the religious 
communities then established at home with plenty of work 
for all the recruits who could or would apply. If they de- 
sired a cloistered order, the Carmelites and the Brigettines 
were there; if an active order appealed to them, there were 
the Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy. To all 
these remonstrances they answered little ; they were not to 
be swayed by motives of mere human prudence. As to dis- 
tance and dangers, they had considered all that and were 
neither frightened nor dismayed. As to the religious orders 
then existing, these were shrines of peace and charity. But 
Mary Francis Clarke and her companions knew unmistak- 
ably that their life work was not here. Marvelous was 
their confidence in their mission ; sublime their tranquil com- 
pliance with directions from on high. 

Not without the blessing and consent of their parents 
would the little band depart, for their filial devotion was 
strong and deeply rooted. In all probability their farewells 
were forever in this world. The news of the project, re- 
ceived at first by their families with profound grief, was 
finally accepted in a Christian spirit as a sacrifice which they, 
too, would make to God. Bitter tears did the heroic, ten- 
der mothers shed, but with Christian heroism and loving 
care they aided in preparations for the journey. It was not 
the first sacrifice they had been called upon to make. And 
this time, too, would they say, "God's holy will be done." 


On that last morning in holy Ireland, Mass was said in 
their little chapel by the Reverend Patrick Richard Kenrick, 
then a curate in Dublin, later Archbishop of St. Louis. He 
had no word of encouragement for them on this occasion; 
on the contrary, even at this late hour his exhortation was 
an earnest appeal to them to desist from the undertaking and 
to remain in their native land. But they were not to be 
deterred now; their sacrifice was ready, they would not 
withdraw it. An unseen hand seemed to impel them, a 
strength hitherto unknown sustained them. This opposition 
of Father Kenrick was perhaps to give to their enterprise 
the character proper to those which are solely for the glory 
of God that they should have to bear contradictions. They 
could count upon a more special protection, for now they 
had reason to say with the Apostle, "Lord, behold we 
have left all things for Thee." 

Relatives accompanied them to Liverpool, arranged for 
their passage on the Cassandra, and bid them Godspeed. 
They had as companions on their voyage Mr. John Early, 
who was on his way to the Jesuit Novitiate in Frederick, 
Maryland, and Mr. Andrew Burns, who entered the semi- 
nary in New York. On Thursday, July 18, 1833, the Cas- 
sandra left port, and the next day Mary Francis Clarke 
and her three companions had lost sight of the land they 
were never again to see. Many years hav*e passed since 
this memorable event, but its recital even now produces 
strong emotion. Like all good deeds, it pains and it de- 
lights. It calls for amazement and for admiration. Such 
courage at first notice startles, but when reflection is made 
upon its attendant prudence and wisdom it stands out as a 
noble victory. Knowing the ends for which God was pre- 
paring those chosen souls, one cannot but marvel at the 
wonderful way in which He was leading them, and at their 
generous response to the promptings of an imperative sense 
of duty. 


The ocean voyage was a journey of anxious days and 
nights, a tedious and perilous undertaking calling for a stout 
heart and exhaustless patience. The Feast of the Transfig- 
uration found them tossed upon stormy waves. A year 
ago they had knelt in their Bethany, their place of sweet 
repose, welcoming to their midst the Divine Guest who had 
deigned to make with them His abiding dwelling place. 
Lady's Day in Harvest saw them anxiously scanning the 
horizon for a sight of land. Dreadful storms, tropical 
heat, the shifting of the cargo which all but sank the ship, 
were the leading features of a voyage that even with fair 
winds and mild skies was fraught with danger. In those 
weeks of wretchedness and fear their hearts were tried 
sorely; the reaction that is sure to follow upon heroism and 
self-sacrifice had no mitigation in their case. But the hand 
of God was with them, guiding the Cassandra to her desti- 
nation, and fifty-one days after leaving Liverpool the sisters 
disembarked at New York. On Sunday, September I, land 
was in sight, a joyous vision to weary travelers. The Te 
Deum and the Magnificat, that in times of hope's frui- 
tion spring unbidden from heart to lips, had been repeated 
with fervent intensity. A new hope awoke in their hearts. 
The fortitude which had indeed never failed them, gave 
place to joyful premonitions, and they watched the widening 
shore line with glad hearts. But there are days when it is 
difficult to reckon on the morrow; so was it now. God 
was pleased to try them by a new ordeal, by a vicissitude 
striking in its significance. 

Before leaving home they had united their fortunes, and 
the little store of gold coin, quite sufficient to prevent the 
question of ways and means from becoming engrossing, had 
been given by Mary Francis Clarke to the keeping of 
Elizabeth Kelly. Just as she was leaving the ship, her 
purse, in some way never to be explained, became un- 


fastened. With sad, affrighted eyes the sisters beheld their 
money roll splashing down into the sea. 

A moment or two of dismay perhaps, then their lifelong 
habit of self-control came to their rescue, and more firmly 
than ever they placed their trust in God. With no demon- 
stration of distress they realized that their loss could not 
be repaired; with equal calmness they decided that it could 
be endured. The cross was their welcome to the land of 
their adoption, and poverty was the first treasure they 
found upon its threshold. This, they felt, was but a mani- 
festation of the Divine Will. And so, confronted by a 
disaster that most abruptly changed their outward circum- 
stances, the sisters faced hardship but not hopelessness. 
They knew that God sends what the world calls misfortune 
only for some hidden good. Trials and troubles He never 
permits without such previous aim and actual ordering as 
will make them, when properly borne, blossom into joys 
and ripen into golden harvests. They remembered that in 
their study of holy poverty they were assured that in the 
days of their pilgrimage upon earth they may only hold 
what earthly gifts they have received, so as to be ready 
bravely to leave them or patiently to bear their withdrawal. 
Mary Francis Clarke had now done both. With tender, 
comforting words she reassured the grieving sister who 
had so unwittingly brought about such loss, and then, with- 
out changing her plans in any particular, went to the home 
of Mrs. James Reilly, the aunt of Mr. Burns. 

With this kind soul the sisters rested a few days, and 
when their purpose became known they were importuned 
to make this city the scene of their labors. Cordial invita- 
tions were supplemented by practical plans for their imme- 
diate employment as teachers in the Catholic neighborhood 
surrounding Mrs. Reilly's home. The pastor added his 
earnest plea that they would open a school in his parish, 


and wished to accompany them at once to the Bishop of 
New York to make all arrangements for this work. But 
their early intention was sacred to the sisters: they could 
not be swerved from their purpose of going to Philadelphia. 
And this place, the city of their' dreams, they reached Sep- 
tember 7, 1833. 

Here they were at last, strangers in a strange land, and 
in a city noted at that time for its hostility to priests and 
religious. A moment of indecision was theirs as they looked 
in vain for their chaplain whom they had notified of their 
coming. But he who had been so urgent in this undertak- 
ing, who had assured them repeatedly that the Bishop of 
Philadelphia was delighted with their acceptance of his 
invitation, did not appear. His absence was inexplicable; 
Jater it was learned that his mind had become deranged, 
and the sisters 1 remembrance of their dismay as they waited 
in vain for his coming became sincere pity for his great 

Ah, the loneliness, the anxiety, the fear, the all but terror 
that seized them as the moments lengthened and they real- 
ized that they were indeed strangers and friendless. When 
the full extent of their desolation had wrung their aching 
hearts, they took counsel among themselves as to the course 
they should pursue. So implicit had been their confidence 
in statements that now proved to be but the fancies of a 
disordered brain, so complete their expectation of a warm 
welcome to this city, that they had made no plans beyond 
their arrival. Surely this new trial had its special purpose. 
Nothing was lacking to convince the sisters that every 
earthly resource had failed them. These drops from the 
chalice of suffering would teach them detachment, that they 
might lean upon God alone. 

Inquiring, they learned that St. Joseph's Church was near 
at hand. Thither they went and in the presence of the 
Blessed Sacrament their full hearts found relief. Having 


returned thanks to God, they met at the church door Mrs. 
Margaret McDonough, whose name still heads the list of 
the community's benefactors. With warm sympathy and 
sincere welcome she received the strangers! She offered 
the kindliest, the most generous hospitality to the homeless 
ones, but they preferred to accept no other assistance than 
that needed in securing for themselves a suitable dwelling. 
The place chosen was in historic Willings Alley, near St. 
Joseph's Church, and thence with their possessions they 
removed at once. It is difficult to imagine anything more 
humble and poor than that first foundation. But it was 
home to Mary Francis Clarke and the sisters. The boxes 
in which their supplies had been packed were the only pieces 
of furniture, for in view of their recent loss all outlay must 
be made with frugal care. Who can do justice to the hero- 
ism, the submission, which zeal for God's glory inspired in 
these valiant women? Yet so silently, so humbly did they 
meet the assaults of discouragement and homesickness, that 
a few brief lines epitomize the experiences of those first 
hard days of trial, whereas the separate anguish of each 
patient heart, if fittingly detailed, would require a volume. 
This was the eve of Our Lady's Nativity, and their confi- 
dence in her nourished the hope of accomplishing God's pur- 
pose in their regard. 

On the morning of September 8th, they went early to St. 
Joseph's Church, and then, faint and hungry, they returned 
to their cheerless dwelling. To their surprise the door stood 
ajar.. Entering they found a bountiful breakfast ready and 
good-hearted Mrs. McDonough, who said in her pleasant 
way, "I knew it would be late when you returned from 
church, and I hope you won't mind if I prepared breakfast 
in honor of our Blessed Mother's birthday." She was eager 
to relieve their distress, but it was useless to offer money, 
they would not take it. They did not want to become a bur- 
den where they had come to befriend, for they feared that 


to accept any offering, except as remuneration for an equiva- 
lent given, would injure their cause; rather than do this they 
would suffer any hardship. Strong indeed was their faith 
in the supernatural character of their vocation. At their 
request, Mrs. McDonough procured some sewing for them 
to do, but though their needlework was exquisite, they 
could not expect remuneration until the work was com- 
plete. Her kind offer of further assistance was as kindly 
refused. Their very destitution raised a barrier around them 
that even the most tactful could not cross without inflicting 
further wounds. Meantime, Mrs. McDonough, believing 
that the sisters were in need, did not hesitate to speak of 
them to her pastor, Father Donaghoe, knowing that he 
would advise and assist them. She spoke of their edifying 
manner of life, asserting her belief that they were Irish 
nuns although they did not wear the religious habit. The 
good priest was touched by the recital of Mrs. McDonough, 
and gladdened her heart by the assurance that he would 
call upon them without delay. 

The thoughts of the sisters went back to the celebration 
of this festival a year ago, when they were among friends 
in the quiet atmosphere of their lately abandoned home. 
But no regrets marred their sacrifice, nor did they wish to 
turn back from the thorny path through which the Master 
saw fit to lead them. And as this night was recalled in 
after years, it was a subject of thanksgiving that not one of 
the little group had contemplated deserting. Clinging to 
the purpose which was their only object in setting out, they 
faltered not, even when deprived of the necessaries of life. 
Tuesday, September 10, 1833, stands out as a red-letter day 
in the annals of the sisters. Fatigued with labor to which 
they gave their utmost energy; faint with hunger, for they 
lacked nourishing food; the sisters sat in their cheerless, 
dreary room as night closed in. Their efforts in lighting a 


coal fire had been complete failures. Since Sunday morn- 
ing, cold water and dry bread had been their fare. Now, 
as each had done many times, Catherine Byrne knelt before 
the grate, patiently burning the kindling on top of the coal, 
as in Ireland, and wondering at her lack of success. "If I 
could only get this fire to burn, we would have a cup of 
tea," she thought. It was a cheerless little room, but their 
faith failed not. "Welcome be the will of God" was the 
Irish prayer of each of their Irish hearts. In the deepening 
twilight they spoke in low tones, each one crushing down 
her dismay and doing her best to make the gloom less dis- 
mal. The evening grew chill, and as the daylight faded 
and the shadows gathered, there came a realization of their 
desolation and their loneliness. Their conversation died 
away and they sat listening to the wailing wind. 

Suddenly, there came a sound of footsteps at their door, 
a soft rap; then Sister Margaret Mann admitted Father 
Donaghoe. Their patient prayer was heard. God had sent 
them a guide and a friend. Father Donaghoe welcomed 
them warmly to America. His gift of discernment in spir- 
itual things and his long experience made him not slow to 
discover the treasures of grace in these simple and generous 
souls. Each interview, as it made him more intimately 
acquainted with their lively faith and their unshaken trust 
in God, confirmed him more and more in his belief in their 
mission. With fullest confidence they placed their projects 
and their desires before the good father, who advised them 
with prudence. He did not disguise from them any of the 
labors and difficulties they would have to encounter, yet 
assured them that these would but test their faith and their 
love of God. Learning that they had had experience in 
teaching, he enlisted their much-needed -services for his 
Sunday school. He observed their work closely, and recog- 
nizing their ability as teachers he foresaw the realization of 


a long-cherished dream. Here was an answer to his 
prayers for help; here, Heaven sent, were the guardians 
for the lamhs of his fold. 

In his pastoral work Father Donaghoe considered the 
religious education of children all important, and his ardent 
devotion and his indefatigable energy were needed in the 
unceasing toil required in the fulfillment of his duty. Be- 
fore his ordination to the priesthood he had looked forward 
with pleasure to life in religion, and this desire was intensi- 
fied after his first meeting with the Jesuits at Georgetown 
College. In the summer of 1 833, just about the time the 
sisters were crossing the ocean, and before Father Donaghoe 
had heard of them, he made his annual retreat at Freder- 
ick, Maryland. During this particular retreat he wished 
to decide the question of becoming a Jesuit. In the college 
at that time was a lay brother, Brother Faye. To him the 
Retreat Master said, "Brother, I have a very important 
matter to decide for a certain person; pray that the Holy 
Spirit may direct me to give an answer according to the will 
of God." Not a word was said about Father Donaghoe, 
who was a stranger to the brother; not a word about his 
desire to become a Jesuit. Some days later Brother Faye 
said to the director, "Father, please tell that person he is 
not to be a Jesuit. This will be a disappointment to him, 
but add for his consolation that the Far West will one day 
resound with the praises of the Children of Mary." These 
prophetic words were a mystery to both priests, but in 
the light of the present, their meaning is clear. 

Early in 1832, the sixth year of Father Donaghoe's 
pastorate there, the Jesuits entered into negotiations with 
Bishop Kenrick looking to the resumption of possession of 
the Church in Willings Alley, and in April, 1833, one 
hundred years after its foundation, it was transferred to 
the care of these fathers, while "Father Donaghoe was ap- 
pointed pastor of the new parish of St. Michael. At the 


time of the sisters' arrival in Philadelphia, St. Michael's 
was far from being ready, but Father Donaghoe was in 
cordial agreement with Mary Francis Clarke as to the 
advisability of opening a private school. His many friends 
willingly assisted, and soon all was in readiness. As he wit- 
nessed the efficient work of the sisters and reflected upon 
their providential coming to Philadelphia, he was convinced 
that theirs was a divinely appointed work. There was little 
room in their hearts for thought or doubt on the subject. 
Their life had visibly tended to this end; and now receiving 
from Father Donaghoe strong assurance as to their voca- 
tion, they accepted his advice with generous self-devotion 
and with that absolute reliance on God which was to be- 
come more and more the very essence of their spiritual life. 
In an interview with the Bishop of Philadelphia, Father 
Donaghoe asked his approbation, his blessing for the work, 
and his prayers for its success. Bishop Kenrick hesitated 
at first; the time seemed unpropitious for this enterprise, 
and he deemed it prudent for Catholics to make no demon- 
stration of zeal or strength in Philadelphia, lest it might 
provoke hostilities. But after some consideration and much 
discussion, and after being thoroughly well informed con- 
cerning the wisdom, prudence, and other good qualities of 
the sisters, the Bishop, convinced that their labors would 
result in the greater glory of God and the good of souls, 
gave his consent for the foundation, with Father Donaghoe 
as its director. 

Exceedingly great was the joy of the sisters when they 
learned that henceforth Father Donaghoe would direct 
them and that their interests would be his. Their faith and 
devotion had at last received reward; they were to become 
true religious. The schooling of the cross, the salutary 
trials of separation from friends, the austere discipline of 
poverty, the stress of hard labor all constituted a training 
which eventually revealed God's purpose in this singular 


combination of circumstances. In the light of their new 
encouragement and in the surety of secure protection, Mary 
Francis Clarke decided upon the coming feast of All Saints 
as the day of their oblation. On that happy morning, 
November i, 1833, holy Mass was said by Father Don- 
aghoe, and after pronouncing their act of consecration, the 
sisters approached Holy Communion, In their private 
oratory on that memorable morning the sisters received the 
religious habit from the hands of Father Donaghoe, who 
then appointed Mary Francis Clarke as superior and Mary 
Margaret Mann her assistant. The first members retained 
their baptismal names, but that they might in a special 
manner be Mary's children, each received in addition the 
name of Mary. 

Thus was begun a work which to the world appeared 
unwise, and which met with many difficulties and with little 
assistance. The first of November, 1833, is then the birth- 
day of the sisterhood, and each recurring anniversary is an 
occasion of thanksgiving for the graces vouchsafed to the 
first members on that great day. The sisters were now an 
organized body of religious teachers, and God blessed their 
work with a success beyond all expectation. The first paro- 
chial school under their care was that of St. Michael, in 
Father Donaghoe's parish. The diligence of the sisters 
and their gentleness and kindness to the pupils, not less 
than the wise guidance of Father Donaghoe, brought pros- 
perity, and the school work was gratifying to all concerned. 
It was soon necessary to provide additional schoolrooms; 
they had already been obliged to employ lay teachers to 
assist in the work, under the supervision of the sisters. Not 
the least part of their satisfaction was the commendation 
of the Right Reverend Bishop when he examined the classes 
they had prepared for Confirmation. He was delighted to 
see the number of children that had been gathered together, 
and to Father Donaghoe he said in his astonishment, "How 


have you accomplished all this?" Father Donaghoe ac- 
knowledged gratefully that this was largely the result of 
the sisters 1 painstaking care, and that the prosperous con- 
dition of his school and of his sodalities could not have been 
attained without their aid. He spoke of the comfort and 
consolation their visits brought to the sick and afflicted, 
and cited instances of their success in winning souls that 
the unhappy local schism had separated from the Church. 

About this time some bequests enabled Father Donaghoe 
to undertake the building of a new convent for the sisters, 
and he purchased land for this purpose near St. Michael's 
Church. Under the auspices of the great archangel the 
structure grew to completion, the sisters taking possession 
of their new home on St. Michael's Day, 1838. This was 
their first novitiate, for already many chosen souls had 
been called by God to join the ranks and strengthen the 
little community. Thus was the Institute of Mary Francis 
Clarke cradled in the City of Brotherly Love, a city hence- 
forth endeared to her sisters as being their first field of 
duty in America. The quaint little church in Willings 
Alley is a hallowed shrine, for it marks the early pastorate 
of their venerated Father Donaghoe, and the fruition of his 
hopes for the establishment of a religious institute. It 
marks the spot made dear to them by the footsteps of Mary 
Francis Clarke and' their first members, so abundantly 
blessed with heroic faith and great charily, to whom they 
owe under God the precious heritage of their vocation to 
the religious life. 

To-day, great buildings of commerce and trade surround 
this little church. Down the alley one must go to reach it 
and through a low, arched gateway, then across a square, 
paved courtyard; here tall trees wave green branches 
wherein birds nest and sing. Except for its two long win- 
dows it has no churchly aspect. It is of brick and gray stone 
like the house still standing, in which Father Donaghoe 


lived and in which Bishops Egan and Conwell died. The 
entrance is through a low, square tower in an angle on the 
court and over a stone sill worn hollow with the tread of 
countless feet. There are odd, foreign-looking lamps or 
lanterns affixed to the house. Within the church all is 
shadow-dimmed, aged, mellow; there one finds peace and 
rest, as of old the sisters there found comfort when they 
directed their faltering feet to its friendly portals. It is 
holy ground, this mother church of all the thousands that 
now surround it, the fountain from which have flowed the 
streams of grace and peace bringing precious benedictions 
to all the land and the inhabitants thereof. "Blessed St. 
Joseph's/' thus the saintly Bishop Brute terms it, and to 
it may well be applied these words of Holy Writ: "My 
eyes shall be open, and my ears attentive to the prayers of 
him that shall pray in this place; for I have chosen and 
sanctified this place that my name may be there forever, 
and my eyes and my heart may remain there perpetually." 
In the formative period of the congregation the spirit and 
the end of the sisterhood were plainly marked. Under 
Father Donaghoe's good guidance the sisters were learning 
by experience the practices of religious life, and the Con- 
stitutions were slowly being formulated. The end of the 
institute was the perfection of each member and the salva- 
tion of souls. Charity, simplicity, and humility were to be 
their characteristic virtues. In alternations of adversity 
and prosperity the congregation passed the first years of its 
existence. Trials, the condition of every great undertaking, 
were not wanting, but they were met with the spirit of un- 
complaining meekness that Mother Clarke instilled into her 
little band. Though confronted with hardship and priva- 
tion they did not complain, endeavoring to be likened to 
Christ Himself who suffered greater things for them and so 
left them an example for their imitation. To suffer, if 
necessary, and then to forget this suffering; to lose in the 


desire to promote the common good; to look upon private 
and personal interest as disloyalty these were the daily 
proofs of their love of Ciod and their earnest desire to pro- 
mote His glory in the religious life. To be forgotten by 
the world and to do good to all seemed to be their con- 
trolling desire. 

It has been said that the first years of a religious order 
are like the first days of the novitiate, possessing a fresh- 
ness and enthusiasm not found in later experience. The 
poverty of the community was extreme, the labor constant, 
yet voluntary austerities were steadily practiced. Frugal 
as were their meals, the sisters practiced mortification even 
here. These external practices, however, would have been 
of little worth had they not been united to a charity which 
embalmed the daily life. There was a holy emulation 
among them who could be most serviceable to the others. 
God recompensed their generosity by extraordinary favors 
in prayer ; only in eternity shall one reach to the full knowl- 
edge of the consolations they received, which in their lowli- 
ness they deemed to be the common lot of all religious. 
Their humility equaled their fervor, and in this Mother 
Clarke ever set them an example. 

With all masters of the spiritual life Father Donaghoe 
taught that prayer, modesty, the flight of occasion of sin, 
and the keeping of one's self always engaged in useful labor, 
would be rewarded by that stainless purity which is so 
pleasing to the Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Mother. 
Exercises in self-fortification, in self-conquest, in self-im- 
molation they practiced courageously and constantly in 
imitation of the hidden life of the Holy Family. 

Thus peacefully the full days glided by until in 1841 
letters from the Right Reverend Bishop of Dubuque led to 
an event of great importance and significance, and gave no- 
tice of a change. But before the transfer to Dubuque, the 
even tenor of their days was furnishing material for the 


fragrant blossoms of traditions that, fadeless, adorn even 
yet the pathway of those who follow these pioneers. The 
facts that have heen gathered from conversations with 
those who took part in these events are not miracles, but 
they certainly are of the number of those eventful happen- 
ings in which the fervent discern the hand of God. Only 
sincere sympathy and warm affection can give due meaning 
to these details, and can appreciate at their real worth these 
valuable auxiliaries which interpret, and inform with new 
vitality, scenes and characters typical of events momentous 
in the story of Mother Clarke's holy life. 

The little community lived in close union with God, and 
His great graces were not wanting, for in souls thus dead 
to self, divine love finds a kingdom. Their spirit of prayer 
fostered by their humility and self-abnegation brought them 
sweetest consolation. At the close of each day it was 
their custom to sing a hymn and to their great joy they 
frequently heard a charming voice blending its strong, rich 
tones with theirs. So delightful was it and so sweet a con- 
sciousness of God's presence did it impart that they felt a 
foretaste of Heaven, but as soon as they attempted to enjoy 
the pleasure of merely listening, it ceased. Those who sang 
heard it; for those who did not sing, the sweet voice was 
silent. So impressed were they with its supernatural qual- 
ity, that they spoke of it even to one another with bated 
breath, lest any act of theirs should deprive them of this 
marvel of comfort; and years passed before they ventured 
to speak freely of it, yet never without reverence. The 
voice seemed to emanate from a picture of the Blessed Vir- 
gin, a little print of no intrinsic artistic value, yet priceless 
to the little group of choristers singing their loved Mother's 
praises. Often have the sisters told this story of the mar- 
velous picture, and no lapse of years, no conflict with the 
incredulous world, has been able to disturb their conviction 
regarding the sweet singing. 


Not only were they prayerful, they were generous souls, 
and they rose to acts of unusual heroism. Nothing could 
disturb the joy of the sisters, though even the necessaries 
of life were entirely lacking. They strove for preeminence 
in the practice of poverty, but the palm was merited by 
Mother Clarke. Nothing could shake their confidence in 
God. They had left all for God; He would provide for 
them. One day their supplies were low, so low indeed, that 
there was nothing for breakfast, nor was there any money. 
Lest the younger sisters should become discouraged, Mother 
Clarke and Sister Mary Margaret tried to keep from them 
a knowledge of this extreme destitution. u Let us say our 
novena prayers before breakfast," said Sister Mary Mar- 
garet, for they were making a novena to St. Joseph, "and 
let us beg that God's holy will may be done, and that in 
abundance or in destitution we may be equally grateful.' 1 
While they were still kneeling, a lady called and asked if 
"the pious ladies" lived there. She wished them to join 
with her in a novena to St. Joseph u for a pious and holy 
intention." She slipped a generous offering into the sisters' 
hands and was gone from their sight. An intention both 
"pious and holy" the expression set them wondering, and 
smiling too, and was often quoted, but they did not neglect 
the request. 

Yet once more a grim experience of poverty beset them 
and with it came unexpected and wholly unexplained relief. 
The sisters had been but a few days in their house on 
Second Street, and early in the morning had gone here and 
there through the house, each one to her appointed duty. 
Mother Clarke was to be housekeeper that day, and to her 
dismay found their supplies completely exhausted. Fearing 
to dishearten the sisters she said nothing of her anxiety, 
and when she was alone she knelt and begged of Almighty 
God to pardon her if she had led her companions into dis- 
tress. Tears came as she thought of their brave, fearless 


souls, and she prayed for strength against all that would 
lead to their discouragement. Just then a sister entered 
hastily to show to Mother Clarke a generous donation 
handed to the portress by a stranger who asked that his 
gift might be used by the sisters as they deemed best No 
one who knew Mother Clarke could suppose that her prayer 
in this hour of distress was merely for the comforts of life 
and for the satisfaction of temporal needs; she knew that 
the feelings of anxiety and solicitude attendant on a state 
of want were unfavorable to the religious spirit; 
therein lay the cause of her disquiet. Then as always she 
could say with all her heart, "Welcome be the will of 

God; 1 

For some time past the course of public events in Phil- 
adelphia had been portentous of trouble to Catholics. 
While the danger was still remote, Bishop Loras of Dubuque 
had written asking for a colony of the sisters to assist in 
the school work of his vast diocese. The invitation came 
when the sisterhood was well established, and when tem- 
porals and spirituals were well provided for, but at the same 
time when a growing spirit of aggression in Philadelphia 
was becoming more marked. It has been said that the riots 
in Philadelphia caused the transfer of the community from 
that city to Dubuque, but as a matter of fact, when these 
riots occurred, the sisters were teaching in Dubuque. The 
transfer was made, not through fear of hostile demonstra- 
tions that was merely a coincidence but it was brought 
about in the joyful hope that the step would serve to the 
greater glory of God. 

A visit from the great missionary to the Indians, Father 
De Smet, who passed through Philadelphia in the autumn 
of 1842, brought to Mother Clarke and the sisters their 
first detailed information regarding the vast field of labor 
in the West The interesting conversation of the mission- 
ary was a potent stimulus to the missionary spirit of the 


sisters, and they assured Father Donaghoe that they would 
joyfully go whithersoever his good judgment would decide 
to be for the glory of God. When a second petition came 
from Bishop Loras, Father Donaghoe lent more willing 
attention to the request, for in his heart lingered the mem- 
ory of Brother Faye's prediction, "Tell him for his 
consolation that the Far West will one day resound with 
the praises of the Children of Mary." Now that a bishop 
of the u Far West" pleaded for their coming, Father 
Donaghoe feared to take a step that would not be for God's 
glory and for the best interests of the community. He 
sought guidance in prayer and had the sisters make a novena 
in honor of St. Joseph, while he himself offered a novena 
of Masses asking of St. Joseph, as a special favor, an un- 
mistakable sign of God's holy will. On the morning of 
March 19 the novena closed, and while all were still mak- 
ing their thanksgiving after Mass, a visitor from Dubuque 
was announced, bearing a message from Bishop Loras with 
an earnest renewal of his petition. After imparting the 
message to Mother Clarke, Father Donaghoe declared 
that he considered this to be a token of God's will, and 
that he would favor sending a colony to the West. From 
that time forward the feast of St. Joseph has been kept as 
a holy day in the community as a grateful remembrance of 
this answered prayer. For the same reason the new home 
in the West was named St. Joseph's Convent. 

In May, 1843, when on his way to the Baltimore Coun- 
cil, Bishop Loras passed through Philadelphia and visited 
Bishop Kenrick, Father Donaghoe, and the sisters. All 
arrangements for the Dubuque mission were then made, and 
Bishop Loras spoke with deepest feeling of his happiness 
in securing this welcome aid for his diocese, and of his 
gratitude for help in his arduous apostolate. It was agreed 
upon that at the close of the last session of the Council he 
would return to Philadelphia, and would then take formal 


charge of his little colony of sisters, and accompany them 
on their journey to the West. 

As the Bishop of Dubuque was to receive their vows be- 
fore their departure, a preparatory retreat of three days 
was made. In the private oratory of their convent in Phil- 
adelphia, on the morning of Whitsunday, June 4, 1843, 
holy Mass was said by Bishop Loras, and after the Ele- 
vation, the sisters, their hearts throbbing with great joy, 
pronounced their holy vows. In the afternoon of that day 
the five sisters accompanied by Father Donaghoe visited 
the Bishop of Philadelphia to receive his blessing and to 
bid him farewell. While there they met his brother, Right 
Reverend Peter Kenrick, the newly appointed Bishop of 
St. Louis, who had said Mass for them in their chapel on 
the morning of the departure from Dublin, ten years pre- 
viously, and who by a singular coincidence was present on 
the two occasions in their history when a momentous change 
in the scene of labor was to be made. 

All things were made ready for the journey; again they 
were to drain the cup of parting, and taste all its bitterness. 
But of those who were to go and those who were to stay, 
each bore with a courageous heart the pangs of sacrifice and, 
with loving smiles and kind assurances of mutual prayers 
and sisterly interest, could say good-by. Mindful of their 
oblation, their dear Lord was even then preparing for them 
the joy of a happy reunion. 

The sisters left Philadelphia on Monday, June 5, 1843, 
under the care of Bishop Loras, and accompanied by the 
Right Reverend Patrick Richard Kenrick who was on his 
way to St. Louis as successor of Bishop Rosati, then re- 
cently deceased. The journey to Pittsburgh was made by 
rail and canal; and from there by boat down the Ohio and 
up the wide waters of the Mississippi. The sisters were 
deeply impressed with the grandeur of the great river. The 
story so lovingly repeated by those who heard it from the 


travelers gives many interesting details of that picturesque 
journey on the Mississippi into the land of hope: of their 
astonishment at sight of the Indians, of their wonder at the 
groups of little huts alternating with long stretches of mag- 
nificent scenery, of the great masses of dark foliage spar- 
kling with fireflies at night, of the green plains and the great 
bluffs, the tall reeds and grasses, the river birds, the swift 
current, and above all of the care of the good Bishop lest 
their entrance into these Western wilds should prove 

The Bishop expected to reach home on Thursday, June 
22, but the sisters hoped to arrive at their new home on 
the next day, the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The only 
accident that befell them on the long journey so happened 
as to be the means of fulfilling their desire. Dubuque 
was not reached until Friday. 

With that grand and kindly simplicity which character- 
ized all his actions, Bishop Loras had planned a surprise 
for his people and had brought from the East a bell for 
his cathedral. As he neared the city, he had it mounted on 
a temporary stand in such a position that it could easily be 
rung. Around it were grouped the happy Bishop and the 
five sisters. Thus up the broad Mississippi, Pere Mar- 
quette's River of the Immaculate Conception, where nearly 
two centuries before this early missionary had come bringing 
faith and salvation to the Indians, the little band sailed, 
their valiant souls, like his, cherishing no other desire than 
the glory of God and the welfare of the many to whom they 
would bring salvation. 

It is a scene on which the daughters of Mother Clarke 
to-day love to linger. The glorious Feast of the Sacred 
Heart had dawned with all the freshness of June, and the 
soft breeze of early morning brought the fragrance of wild 
blossoms, the songs of hidden birds. For many days the 
people of Dubuque had been awaiting the return of their 


Bishop from the Mast. The river was eagerly scanned for 
the up-coming packet, and there was anxious listening for 
the first sound of the steamboat whistle. The boat had 
been expected the evening before, but in those days elec- 
tricity had not yet annihilated space; there was neither tele- 
graph nor telephone to explain the delay. 

Suddenly there came the sound of a bell. The triple 
threes rang out. The Angelus sounded for the first time in 
the diocese of the West! Many of those on the shore had 
heard it last in some fair eastern home, and now amid the 
privations of pioneer life it brought back the memory of 
the olden days. The boat rounded the island and came 
slowly up the river. Hundreds had now collected on the 
bank to give greeting to their beloved Bishop. Beside him 
on the deck stood five dark-robed figures, the first Sisters of 
Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with their message of 
faith and hope and love. There was a joyous shout of wel- 
come to the prelate and his companions, while cannon and 
gun awoke the echoes from the hills and valleys that sur- 
round the present mother house on Mount Carmel. 

On leaving the boat the sisters were conducted to the 
cathedral where Bishop Loras said Mass, and the sisters, 
with great love and thankfulness to God, received Holy 
Communion. Great was their emotion when in presence of 
the Most Blessed Sacrament, they offered their homage of 
adoration and thanksgiving to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 
and besought the Fountain of Mercies to bestow the gift of 
faith and all blessings upon those whom they had come such 
a distance to aid. As the sisters, with the Bishop, passed 
through the kneeling throng slowly up the cathedral aisle 
that morning, they were closely scrutinized; by none per- 
haps more carefully than by her who proved to be their 
first postulant from the West, Letitia Burke, afterward 
Sister Mary Agnes. 


At the time of the sisters' arrival in Dubuque, the dwell- 
ing intended for them was not ready for occupancy, so for 
a while they were the guests of the Bishop. Like a true 
missionary and tender father, Bishop Loras took up his 
abode in the sacristy of the church for three weeks, giving 
to the sisters his residence. Rather than incommode him 
longer they went to the home destined for them, though it 
was by no means ready even then. Pioneer life was theirs 
for a time, but with that spirit which Mother Clarke had 
fostered and strengthened, they quailed before no difficulty. 
To the joy of well-doing was added the happy anticipation 
of reunion with the sisters from whom they had parted 
in Philadelphia. 

The Bishop quickly recognized the great assistance the 
sisters could lend him, and long before they reached the 
journey's end he had resolved to write forthwith and invite 
not only the entire community but even their revered 
founder to come westward. With the utmost solicitude 
and without delay he wrote to Father Donaghoe : 

Dubuque, Iowa, July 5, 1843. 
Rev. T. J. Donaghoe, 

Rev. and Dear Friend in Christ : After praying and 
making others pray; after offering the Holy Sacrifice; 
after applying to our dearly beloved Blessed Mother ; 
finally after consulting these dear Children of Mary, 
I make again a most earnest petition, and I say with 
the crusaders, "God wills it I" and I wish you to say 
the same. You have promised to consider the matter. 
Permit the Sisters to come to Dubuque, and come 
yourself with them. 

After much prayer and serious consideration Father 
Donaghoe was impelled to cast his lot and that of his spirit- 
ual children among the people of the West. Taking no 
serious determination with rashness, with him to resolve 


was to act. The school of the sisters in Philadelphia was 
closed, and Father Donaghoe with fourteen sisters took 
the route followed by the first colony. He had some diffi- 
culty in severing his connection with the East, for Bishop 
Kenrick was unwilling to lose so valuable a priest. Though 
Father Donaghoe came with the sisters to Iowa and saw 
them comfortably settled, he was obliged to return to Phil- 
adelphia for some time longer. There was joy in the 
hearts of all when Bishop Kenrick's consent to the removal 
was obtained, and Father Donaghoe entered the Dubuque 

Pioneer were the days when Mother Clarke and her first 
sisters came to Dubuque. As the passing of time dims the 
memory, the record of the days becomes but a shadow of 
the stern reality. The wilderness and its unexplored rivers 
and untraveled lakes : its immense tracts of pathless forests, 
its endless prairies rising and falling in gentle swells and 
stretching like an ocean, mile upon mile, until their dim 
outlines are lost in a hazy horizon; the Indian fights and 
massacres; the final triumph of the pioneer all these de- 
tails should be remembered. It was an heroic struggle to 
conquer these untamed Western lands and to make them 
yield prosperity. 

Marvels of industry and perseverance were required in 
all lines of activity, but the great factor in the progress of 
civilizing the West was the Catholic religion. The real 
heroes of the Northwest were the missionaries, and among 
these missionaries, doing their full share of the glorious 
work, were the early sisters. 

Totally oblivious of self, turned from the comforts 
and happiness of home to encounter in a foreign land 
all the miseries and privations of the exile and the out- 
cast; their sole weapon the faith and the cross of 
Christ, their only aim God's honor and glory; they 
labored even among the lowest class of humanity, the 


savage, yet they saw in him only the image of their 
Divine Master; they labored for a mere pittance or 
nothing, and withal they won an imperishable crown. 

Such were the missionaries of the Northwest; such was 
Matthias Loras, the first Bishop of Dubuque; such were 
his auxiliaries, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin 

In 1845 an unexpected happiness was theirs. The Rev- 
erend Joseph Cretin, on returning from Rome, was the 
bearer of a special blessing from His Holiness Gregory 
XVI to the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
This first formal recognition by the Holy See was justly 
esteemed to be a high and holy privilege, and was an incen- 
tive to greater zeal and to more fervent gratitude for God's 
loving care. 

For some time Father Donaghoe's health had perceptibly 
declined, and during the summer months of 1868 his con- 
dition became alarming. Autumn seemed to bring a return 
of his former vigor, and the hearts of his children rejoiced 
at the happy change. But as the season advanced, his suf- 
ferings became severe and continuous. He himself felt that 
the call had come for his departure to his heart's true 

His malady caused him acute suffering that seemed to 
find relief only at the sound of the voices of the sisters. 
When the sisters in their visit to the Blessed Sacrament re- 
cited the rosary, he listened eagerly, and' with his beads in 
his trembling hands tried to follow the prayers. All the 
sisters were unceasing in their attention, Mother Clarke 
noting carefully his directions regarding the community. 
Once as she sat near him, she noticed that tears fell from 
his closed eyes and stole down his wasted cheeks. "Your 
poor eyes are very weak, Father," she said. Looking at 
her kindly a moment, he replied, "No, Mother, my eyes- 


are not weak; these are tears of genuine gratitude to God 
who has given me so much comfort." 

The morning of January 5, 1869, the last which Father 
Donaghoe spent on earth, was wild and dreary. Snow and 
ice beat against the windows before a driving wind that 
made this midwinter season intensely cold. When at about 
half-past eleven o'clock the venerable father was told that 
he was dying, he smiled faintly and closing his eyes said, 
U O God, in union with Thy death on the Cross, in atone- 
ment for all the sins of my life." He had received all the 
helps the Church offers to her dying children. Ascetic to 
the last, he asked to be laid on the floor, and in that humble 
posture he yielded his soul to God. Just at noon on Janu- 
ary 5, 1869, he breathed his last, without a struggle, and 
went forth to meet Him whom on earth he had served so 
faithfully and so well, and who was to be his everlasting 

The institute and rules received the final official approba- 
tion of the Holy See on March 15, 1885. A cablegram 
announced the good tidings to Mother Clarke. When the 
long-looked-for document arrived in Dubuque, the Bishop 
carried it himself to St. Joseph's Prairie and there con- 
gratulated Mother Clarke and the sisters on the inestimable 
favor conferred on them by the Holy Father, Leo XIII. 
The decree was received by the congregation with every 
demonstration of gratitude to God. The Te Deum was 
sung, and Masses and special prayers of thanksgiving were 
said in every house. 

The brief confirming Mother Clarke for life in the office 
of Superior General was given on June 28, 1885. On July 
25, the Bishop of Dubuque visited St. Joseph's Prairie to 
confirm the holy foundress in this office. 

For fifty-five years Mother Clarke had led the life of a 
true religious; quietly active, tenderly strong, carrying out 
a grand work with unobtrusive energy, witnessing the most 


encouraging results with the meekest humility. She achieved 
the difficult task of maintaining a high standard of spiritual 
life simultaneously with the many and insistent duties of her 
arduous office. And in her wonderful activity she preserved 
the spirit of a contemplative, admitting no feeling of grati- 
fied complacency even in the time of most marked success. 
After Father Donaghoe's death in January, 1869, there 
must have been for her some moments of oppressive re- 
sponsibility and anxiety. But careful training had had its 
effect. The congregation was now a compact body, and 
discipline and habit had accustomed the members to think 
and act as one. Mother Clarke ruled by love, and won the 
confidence of all under her direction or control. 

Mother Clarke was exceptionally mild. Her words, 
always few and to the point, were uttered in a low tone; 
her manner was indicative of the serenity of her mind. But 
her soul was lofty in its aims, even though she was so hum- 
ble, patient, and meek. Utterly incapable of the slightest 
subterfuge, guileless and innocent as a child, yet withal, as 
if God's hand were outstretched over her, she never suf- 
fered in the least by her inability to recognize deceit, or 
better, perhaps, the deceitful in her noble presence were 
moved to partake of her truth and honesty. She was the 
very soul of honor, and with the courage of a lofty spirit 
she neither feared nor flattered anyone. 

Extreme gentleness and modesty which, with the con- 
tinual increase of grace, became the most perfect and ad- 
mirable humility, were the basis of her natural character and 
of her acquired sanctity. This was supplemented by that 
generous, affectionate confidence in God which shone out so 
luminously in the great trials of her career. Besides the 
sufferings and the privations which she endured during the 
period of the first foundations, she practiced austerities 
and penances of unusual severity. 

Contemplative prayer had for her a great attraction and 


in it she attained a high degree of perfection. She was a 
lover of silence. During her lifetime, strictest silence 
guarded her extraordinary spiritual favors, and the humble 
obscurity in which she lived effectually concealed all that 
transcended the ordinary. Frequently after Holy Com- 
munion she was piously affected to a degree which she could 
not conceal. Her love for her Divine Lord manifested 
itself in many ways, and her efforts to repress her feelings 
only made them more evident and touching. It is no easy 
matter to get details. She bound the sisters who witnessed 
these remarkable events to secrecy and while they would 
have been glad to procure for the foundress honor a de- 
tailed account which these marvels would undoubtedly se- 
cure, they have passed away, leaving only the merest out- 
lines. But as there were many evidences of supernatural 
gifts of an extraordinary kind during her life, so have 
there been repeated proofs of her power with Almighty 
God after her death. 

Only once can a congregation suffer the loss of its found- 
ress. But now this grief was merged in the personal loss 
of one who was indeed a Mother in the best sense of that 
beautiful title. All unexpected, too, was the sad event. 
For some time Mother Clarke's health, which had never 
been other than delicate, seemed declining; but while this 
caused sorrow and uneasiness it was not seriously alarm- 
ing. Soon, however, it became apparent that death was 
near. She was fully conscious of her state. She received 
Extreme Unction with great serenity and a radiant smile lit 
up her face when she received the Holy Viaticum. She had 
no fear of death, and was free from all care and anxiety. 
She lay quiet and silent, absorbed in prayer. On the morn- 
ing of December 3, she received a consoling spiritual com- 
fort, the blessing of the Holy Father with a plenary in- 
dulgence for the hour of death. Her reply on learning 
that so great a favor had been conferred upon her was 
characteristic: "Thanks be to Godl I need it" 


Her vigorous intellect was not weakened even when the 
chill of death had manifested itself to her and those around 
her. She was fully aware that her last hour had come, and 
she approached the judgment seat of God in the same holy 
dispositions with which as a truly humble servant she had 
ever been blessed. The end came on Sunday morning, 
December 4, 1887. It was a singularly peaceful death. 
Painlessly and in perfect consciousness, she gave up her soul 
to God while the chaplain recited th'e prayers for the de- 
parting soul. She left to the congregation she had founded 
the inheritance of the most sublime lessons and virtues, 
and the example of her heroic generosity in responding to 
the call of God. As the presence of Mother Clarke in life 
was an instruction in every virtue, so has she offered to her 
spiritual daughters an example of a holy death. 

Her remains were borne to the chapel where the sisters 
had so often knelt with her. But even in the gloom of such 
mourning there shines eternal hope; and those who have 
watched by the blessed dead "who have died in the Lord" 
know full well that the prayer of invocation becomes al- 
most involuntarily a prayer of petition to the dear departed 
ones who have so fully appeased the divine justice, and who 
have merited the sweet mercy in which they so fully confided. 

In the little cemetery, surrounded by the mortal remains 
of Father Donaghoe and her faithful companions, the body 
of Mother Clarke awaits the resurrection. Over marble 
crypt and low mounds the fir trees spread their drooping 
branches like the outstretched fingers of protecting hands. 
And day by day the shadow of the tall crucifix jmoves from 
mound to mound with the passing hours, gathering those 
quiet sleepers into the circle of its caressing care, marking 
them with the sign of the cross, the pledge of that happy 
resurrection when their human eyes shall rest upon the 
beau.ty of the face of Christ. 



ANNE THERESE GUERIN was born at Etables, France, 
October 2, 1798, the daughter of Laurent Guerin and Isa- 
belle Lefevre, and was the eldest of four children. Noth- 
ing extraordinary seemed to characterize her childhood, 
except her tender devotion to the Mother of God and the 
fact that she was permitted to make her first Holy Com- 
munion at the early age of ten, a privilege very unusual in 
those days. She prepared herself for this happy event with 
great fervor, and on the day she received her Lord for the 
first time she consecrated her heart to Him, though years 
elapsed before she was permitted to realize the ardent de- 
sire she had of becoming a religious. 

When Mademoiselle Guerin was in her fifteenth year, her 
father, a naval officer under Napoleon, met with a tragic 
death at the hands of brigands! Madame Guerin, who had 
already suffered much on account of the early death of two 
of her children, succumbed under this new sorrow and was 
ill for several years. 

Mademoiselle Guerin was thus forced to assume the bur- 
den of family cares at a very early age. With character- 
istic energy and courage, however, she took up the manage- 
ment of the household, the care of her sick mother and of 
her younger sister, as a matter of duty. Under these trying 
circumstances she evidenced many of those traits of charac- 
ter which were so strikingly manifest in the foundress of 
later years. 

Nothing extraordinary seemed to have marked the child- 



hood of Anne Therese Guerin. The same might be said of 
many of God's saints. Certainly there was nothing of sin- 
gular importance in the early years of St. Therese of 
Lisieux, yet she says herself that Pauline, her little mother, 
"never let a fault pass uncorrected." It is also stated in her 
life that while she was still very young, "Therese made her 
own the principle of doing one's duty in the smallest mat- 
ters, of seeking perfection in little acts of self-denial, which 
she had imbibed from her mother and her elder sisters." 

Indeed many who have achieved great things in later life 
or who have attained eminent holiness owe the beginnings 
of their greatness or their holiness to the hidden sanctities 
and true nobility of an early home training. Mademoiselle 
Guerin received practically all of her education at home. 
Her mother, good, pious, and well educated, was her first 
teacher. Later her studies were directed by a young semi- 
narian, her cousin, who lived with the family for some time 
before his ordination. 

Madame Guerin's illness at the time of her husband's 
tragic death left her completely dependent upon her elder 
daughter. It was only natural that, after her recovery, 
when she learned of Therese's plan to become a religious, 
she should oppose it, feeling herself unequal to the sacri- 
fice of her daughter's care and companionship. Finally 
after three years of weary waiting, Therese, having gained 
her mother's consent, entered the congregation of the Sis- 
ters of Providence at Ruille-sur-Loir in 1823. 

Mother Mary, the Superior and Mistress of Novices, 
soon recognized the unusual qualities of mind and heart in 
the postulant, whose years of sacrifice and responsibility 
proved a wonderful preparation for her novitiate training. 
Mademoiselle Guerin's earnestness and fervor never re- 
laxed and at the end of the year, by special dispensation, 
Sister Theodore, as she was called in religion, had the 
great happiness of pronouncing her first vows. On this 


same day she was appointed Superior of the establishment 
of Rennes. This mission called for a directress of unusual 
tact and prudence. Mother Mary found she was not mis- 
taken in her estimate of Sister Theodore's character when 
she entrusted to the young religious this delicate and 
difficult task. 

So well did Sister Theodore govern the school at Rennes 
that both the pupils, and through them their parents, were 
led to reform their way of life. In time the locality of Sis- 
ter Theodore's mission became the pride of the clergy and 
the people of the city. 

God's ways with souls seem difficult to understand at 
times. But that is because mortals see only the wrong side 
of the tapestry of life. The Divine Artist alone sees the 
full and perfect design. With infinite care He chooses the 
colors and patterns, weaving surely and with exquisite 
effect the pictures that He wills. An innocent remark made 
by Sister Theodore at this time was strangely misinter- 
preted and carried back to Ruille as an evidence that Sister 
Theodore was not in sympathy with some measures that 
had been adopted at the mother house. She was suddenly 
recalled from Rennes, and the trust and confidence hitherto 
reposed in her by Superiors was likewise withdrawn. That 
Sister Theodore suffered keenly from this trial may be seen 
from the letters of the Bishop of Rennes, her spiritual direc- 
tor, to whom she confided all. 

Rennes, September 13, 1834. 

The time of trial has arrived for you, very dear 
daughter, and perhaps a terrible struggle between na- 
ture and grace has begun; the latter, undoubtedly, will 

I regret very sincerely that circumstances have not 
permitted you to return to your establishment, which 
will never forget the good that you have done in it. ... 

Let us call to mind what St. Cyprian says "It is 


impossible to exile a Christian, because he finds his 
God everywhere, Who consoles him in the pains of 
this life." It is to Him you must have recourse now, 
and He will say to you with paternal kindness, 
"Courage, daughter, the way of the cross is open to 
thee ; do not listen to the repugnance nature feels ; en- 
deavor to enter the royal way with great confidence. 
I will not abandon thee. I am witness of the afflic- 
tions of thy heart. I will sustain thee and be Myself 
thy recompense. Bless the persons who struck thee. 
A misunderstanding has taken place. My Providence 
has thus permitted it in order to try thee anew in the 
crucible of tribulations that there may not be a fiber 
in thy heart for any creature. Pray for thy Superiors 
who are the instruments I have chosen for this purifi- 
cation; in giving thee the occasion of suffering, they 
open to thee the way to heaven, which is the way of 
the cross." 

My sisters and the priests of my household beg me 
to remember them to you. I reiterate, my very dear 
daughter, the expression of our entire devotedness, in 
our Lord. 

J. G., Bishop of Rennes. 

In compliance with the advice of her director, Sister 
Theodore had made full statement of the matter concern- 
ing which she had been accused, but her explanation evi- 
dently was not accepted at Ruille, and she was sent to the 
little country mission of Soulaines. About four years later 
the matter seems to have bqen cleared up, and Sister Theo- 
dore's reputation reestablished. At this time the same 
good friend, the Bishop of Rennes, wrote the following to 
Sister Theodore: 

It is a great satisfaction for me to learn that justice 
and truth have attained the ascendancy. . . . God has 
permitted this trial in order to make you more like 
His Divine Son to nail you to the cross with Him. 


We all have our debts to pay. An excellent means of 
freeing ourselves from them is to pass now in this life 
through the crucible of tribulation. If they had been 
left to your own choice it is to be presumed that they 
would not have been of this nature. God is a skillful 
physician Who knows what is best for each of us. He 
sometimes inflicts very deep wounds upon us, but those 
of His Divine Son were deeper. 

The work of Sister Theodore, without any effort on her 
part, seems always to have met with public appreciation 
and commendation. At Rennes she had been held in ad- 
miration and esteem by all from the Bishop and clergy to 
the youngest pupils of the school. Her superior talents as 
a teacher were soon recognized at Soulaines, and when the 
school inspectors came to pay their official visit, they were 
amazed at the proficiency of her pupils. In the report made 
to the Board of Education, the inspectors praised Sister 
Theodore as a remarkably gifted and efficient teacher, and 
she was voted medallion decorations of the French 

In the year 1839 the newly consecrated Bishop de la 
Hailandiere, of the diocese of Vincennes in America, vis- 
ited Ruille for the purpose of securing sisters for his In- 
diana mission. Mother Mary, after prayerful considera- 
tion, finally decided to undertake the American mission, on 
condition, however, that it would be placed in charge of 
Sister Theodore, whom she judged "the one person" 
capable of making such a foundation. Although many of 
the sisters had volunteered for the new mission, Sister Theo- 
dore was not of the number. She considered herself un- 
worthy of the great and difficult work of the foreign mis- 
sions. It was only when some one intimated to her that 
the fate of the Indiana foundation depended in a great 
measure upon her that she finally offered to undertake it. 

Mother Mary's letter to Sister Theodore written about 


a month before the departure for America leaves no 
doubt as to the part the latter is to take in the Indiana 
foundation : 

Now, my dear child, notwithstanding your repre- 
sentations, it is decided that you will conduct the sisters 
to Vincennes, that you will be the Superior of the 
Mother House which is to be founded there, and the 
Superior General of all the other houses which shall 
there be established later on, until the two prelates of 
Mans and Vincennes shall otherwise ordain. This is 
the way we wish to commence this work for the greater 
honor and glory of God, in order not to tempt Provi- 
dence, nor on the other hand to distrust His goodness. 
In concert with our learned and worthy Bishop, we 
have determined to send at present only three of our 
Sisters you, Sister St. Vincent Ferrer and Sister 
Dominique, with two novices and one lay Sister. We 
have thought, considering the poverty of the diocese 
of Vincennes, of the Bishop and of his clergy, who live 
but on alms, that it was necessary to proceed with 
prudence in order not to overburden them. You will 
begin by settling down in the dwelling destined for you, 
which, however, is not yet finished; there you will 
judge of your needs, of the good that can be done, of 
the assistance that you ought to have. You are to 
open a school amongst a small Congregation of Catho- 
lics, Sister Dominique will visit the sick, and next sum- 
mer Ruille engages itself to send you more help if 
necessary. One of your novices is a beautiful writer, 
the other a fine seamstress, both very good per- 
sons. . . . 

Bishop Bouvier'says he can determine nothing at 
present in regard to the agreement to be made be- 
tween Bishop de la Hailandiere and himself; you will 
have to see how matters stand before anything can be 
concluded; however, the Bishop of Vincennes is to pay 
the expenses of the voyage. He besought us to ad- 


vance you the money as far as New York. There 
you will find reimbursement at his agent's; a priest sent 
there to meet you will direct the remainder of the 
journey. The money you will have spent will be re- 
funded to you; but we substitute you creditor instead 
of the Congregation (at Ruille) and you will apply 
this money to your own wants and those of your Sis* 
ters. Thus the Bishop's indebtedness will be to you 
in place of the Congregation, which hereby surrenders 
all claim. 

Adieu, my dear daughter, Sister Theodore. May 
the grace and peace of our Lord be with you every- 
where in all things. 

Your friend and Mother, 

SISTER MARY, Sup. Gen'l. 

The little band of missionaries left Ruille on July 12, 
1840, and from thence went to Mans to receive the last 
instructions and blessing of Bishop Bouvier. Sister Theo- 
dore's diary gives a most interesting and touching account 
of the departure from Mans and of the final sailing from 
Havre : 

On the 1 6th, Feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel, 
Canon Lottin was at the Cathedral at four o'clock in 
the morning to celebrate the holy mysteries and to 
give us the holy Communion, our viaticum, that we 
might be aided from on high during our perilous jour- 
ney. Then, having received the blessing of this good 
and holy priest, we took the coach for Havre, accom- 
panied by our faithful friends. M. and Mme. Marie 
of Soulaines. 

At Honfleur we had our first sight of the sea. On 
beholding it I nearly fainted. . . . My companions 
perceived my emotion and were exceedingly tender and 
attentive. The Dear Sisters ! Had they not hearts as 
well as I? My weakness seemed to give them more 
courage, and they did everything they could to cheer 


me. How I thanked God for giving me the example of 
their beautiful brave lives! 

Another page of her journal reads as follows: 

How difficult it would be for me to describe what 
passed in my soul when I felt the vessel moving and I 
was leaving France. The dwellings appeared to fly 
from us. Fort Francis was the last object we beheld; 
it also disappeared in its time and we were on the great 
sea. The sails were extended one after the other, 
swelled by the wind and hurrying us away from our 
beloved France. I kissed my crucifix. It would re- 
main with me to teach me that the life of a Christian 
and especially of a Religious, must be a life of priva- 
tions and sacrifice. 

And now there opens up a new phase of the life of Sister 
Theodore, a chapter which deals with her real life work 
twofold in its object: the foundation of the congregation of 
the Sisters of Providence in America, and her part in the 
development of Catholic education in the great Middle 

Through childhood sorrows and trials, through commu- 
nity misunderstandings and calumnies, and finally through 
the sacrifice of and absolute separation from friends and 
country, God had been preparing this chosen soul for great 
things. Tried in the furnace of tribulation and tempered 
in the flames of divine love she had become a fit instrument 
in His hands for the salvation of souls. 

Sister Theodore and her six brave companions, bidding 
their silent adieux to France, turned with brave, hopeful 
hearts to the great work awaiting them in the New World. 
After a perilous journey of six weeks on the ocean, and 
another six weeks of arduous travel by steamboat and stage- 
coach the little band of missionaries reached their Indiana 
destination, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, in the twilight hour 


of a beautiful late October evening. Sister Theodore's 
journal gives a graphic and inspiring account of their 
arrival : 

Suddenly we stopped in the midst of a dense forest. 
It was growing dark. Father Buteaux announced 
briefly that we had arrived. We were perfectly silent; 
the gravity of the moment excluded any inclination to 
loquacity. Imagine our astonishment upon finding 
ourselves still in the midst of the forest, no village, 
not even a house in sight. Walking a short distance 
down a hill, we beheld through the trees on the other 
side of the ravine a log house with a shed in the rear. 
"There," said the good priest, "is the farm house 
where the postulants awaiting you have a room, in 
which you will lodge until your house is completed." 

We had agreed among ourselves that our first visit 
should be made to the Blessed Sacrament, and that we 
would speak to no one until we should have been ad- 
mitted to the Real Presence of Our Lord, and there 
poured out our homage of thanksgiving and renewed 
the consecration of our lives to His holy love and 
service. Father Buteaux led the way; we followed in 
silence to the church. The Church! I send you a 
sketch of it. Yes, my friends, that is the dwelling of 
the Lord of the universe the church, in comparison 
with which the stables wherein you shelter your cattle 
are palaces. There it is that every day the Lamb of 
God is offered up in sacrifice for the living and the 
dead. There He reposes day and night in a small 
custode; no tabernacle, no altar for can the term 
"altar" be applied to three boards resting on 
stakes? . . . 

Called from our brief devotions we went to meet 
the four postulants who had been waiting a week for 
us. They led us to a small room which good Farmer 
Thralls had given up to them; this, with a corn loft, 
serves our every purpose dormitory, refectory, recre- 


ation room, lavatory, and infirmary. A shed outside 
is the kitchen. Think of ten of us trying to live a 
religious life in a single room and an attic! But we 
are happy, though located in the very heart of the 
forest far from any human habitation. 

The Sisters of Providence had indeed arrived to found a 
mission in the forest, to open a convent which was yet to be 
built, and to teach school where apparently there were no 
pupils. Truly had the good priest at Mans foretold their 
portion; when bidding these missionaries farewell he said 
to Sister Theodore: "You will have to suffer much." But 
he also added, "With the Cross and in the Cross and 
through the Cross thou shalt conquer." 

Sister Theodore on her side had even in anticipation em- 
braced the trials of her new mission for the following pas- 
sage may be found in a letter written before she left France : 

I long for the Cross that Jesus holds out to me. 
When I think of my future, the work for souls in the 
faraway and wild country, I wish to fly to it. But, 
ah ! my miseries I Pray for me that my sins and defi- 
ciencies may not prove a hindrance to God's work. I 
kiss my crucifix and bathe it with tears, entreating Him 
Who for mankind was slain to water with His precious 
blood the soil of hearts which the Sisters of Providence 
must bring as conquests of His love. 

Now that the crosses and painful privations of a pioneer 
mission were really hers, she accepted them with love and 
heroic generosity. 

For over a month the sisters and postulants lived in the 
upper story of Mr. Thrall's house. Then the family moved 
elsewhere and left the community in possession of the entire 
dwelling. One may imagine the sufferings of the sisters in 
this odd convent. They slept in the garret > the roof of 
which was so poorly shingled that the wind and rain and 
snow made their dormitory bitter cold. "Sometimes," 


wrote one of the sisters, "when we awake we find a com- 
fort of down on our beds." Their cooking was done in the 
outside shed and a meager fare it was. 

Some pork and salt beef constituted all our provi- 
sions; we were sometimes even in want of bread, etc. 
Never a complaint expressed in my presence, never a 
regret for what had been left; their patience and fer- 
vor were my greatest and sweetest consolations. 

In these early days the sisters did most of the manual 
labor, gathering brush and rolling logs so as to clear the 
land and prepare it for plowing. They cut and carried 
wood, and gathered the harvest; and at all times the Su- 
perior did her share of whatever work claimed attention 
of the sisters. One of the sisters in her testimony during 
the diocesan process for the beatification of Mother Theo- 
dore gives a charming picture of the holy foundress in the 
midst of her sisters lightening their tasks by her presence 
and conversation. 

Our dear Mother shared our heavy manual labor 
when she was able. At such times she always turned 
our thoughts to the spiritual benefit the work sug- 
gested. When gathering in the corn and shocking it, 
attention was called to the full sheaves, the perfection 
of the ears of corn, showing a loving Providence thus 
so bountifully providing for our needs ; the full ears, 
also, she said, denoted the perfection of our work 
when we utilized all the graces given us. The defec- 
tive ears reminded us of our want of fidelity. In 
gathering the fruit the lesson was continued, turning 
attention to the sweetness and perfection of Him Who 
gave it, and to the fruit of our labors and virtues. In 
clearing the ground of rubbish and stumps, salutary 
lessons came with that work, about removing obstacles, 


rooting out obnoxious things and clearing away our 
faults, thus preparing the soil of our hearts for the 
seeds of virtue we should plant there. 

The beauties of nature were continual reminders to 
her of the beauty of God; it was a thought she loved 
to put frequently before our minds. The luxuriance of 
the foliage suggested the bounty and infinite power of 
the Creator. The beauty of winter in its snowy 
mantle, purity of soul and the splendor of that spot- 
lessness. And all these things, she would exclaim, 
with the sweetest expression of loving admiration, were 
made for man's use and benefit; were made for me: 
then "0 mon Dieu, je vous aime de tout mon cceur!" 
softly died away on her lips as she lapsed into silent 
communings with the God she so loved. 

After a delay of over eight months the new building was 
finally ready for occupancy; and on July 4, 1841, the first 
pupil was registered for the academy. Mother Theodore 
records the event in her journal: 

July 4 which is a Saturday, our first boarder arrives 
whom we must keep although we are not yet ready. 

Her name is Mary L. Glory to Mary; glory to 

our Mother the ever blessed Virgin 1 

Soon other students were enrolled and although during 
the first year the number did not exceed twelve, the board- 
ing school, at least, was a reality. Mother Theodore 
writes : 

We must make a beginning, and trust to Providence. 
If it is God's work it will not fail, for we shall leave 
it in the hands of our Blessed Mother. 

After a Mass of the Holy Ghost the new work was at 
last begun. There was in the wilds of Indiana an Ameri- 
can school for American girls with classes both in French 
and English. The latter were under one of the English- 


speaking novices. Besides wonderful natural administrative 
and organizing ability Mother Theodore brought to this 
new undertaking the valuable experience of seventeen years 
of teaching In the schools of her order in France. 

Mother Theodore was a woman of vision and progres- 
sive in her ideas of education. She consulted the most 
eminent educators and experienced ecclesiastics in America 
and visited schools already established in the East, before 
deciding the curriculum of the higher education of women 
at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She wished to be sure that 
the school conformed to the best and latest methods in use 
and would meet the needs of the young women of America. 

From the very inception of the St. Mary's Institute, as 
it was then called, the object was to develop the ideal 
Christian woman, equipped in every way to lead a useful 
and happy life. 

In 1846 Mother Theodore obtained from the Indiana 
Legislature the charter for the school, which gave to it all 
the rights and privileges of chartered institutions. The 
Sisters of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods were hereby empow- 
ered to confer academic honors on students who had com- 
pleted the courses of instruction. 

Thus did this French religious sound the needs and 
respond to the spirit of her adopted country [wrote 
one of her spiritual daughters]. The grace accorded 
by God to many founders of religious orders of "build- 
ing better than they knew" was given in generous 
measure to Mother Theodore. The wisdom of her 
plans and system of education is made more deeply 
manifest every day, and her foresight seems almost 
prophetic, so well did she prepare the foundations, not 
of an institution whose influence would be confined to 
her own lifetime, but for one that would develop and 
grow with the growth of the country as Saint Mary- 
of-the-Woods has actually done along the wise lines 
traced by its venerated foundress. 


Mother Theodore gave much of her attention to the 
academy, supervising the courses, visiting the classes, and 
conducting the examinations. From the very beginning she 
had decided that the community should adopt the English 
language and she herself used it in all her instructions. It 
was only on rare occasions, when she had "something hard 
to say," that she permitted herself the luxury of speaking 

The Feast of St. Gertrude, 1841, marked the arrival at 
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods of Sister St. Francis Xavier, 
Irma le Fer de la Motte, whom Mother Theodore had met 
at Soulaines previous to her departure for America. 
Mademoiselle le Fer had offered herself to Bishop de la 
Hailandiere for the work of the Indiana mission, and it was 
he who had sent her to Soulaines to meet Mother Theo- 
dore. From the very first these two chosen souls had felt a 
strong attraction for each other, an attraction which was 
all the greater because of their common hopes and holy 
ambitions to go to America and there to win souls for the 
Kingdom of Heaven. It was a great consolation to the 
sorely tried foundress to welcome as colaborer this kindred 
soul in whom she could confide and on whose sympathetic 
cooperation she could rely implicitly. How she thanked 
God for this new mark of His sweet and tender Providence I 

During the first years the school and even the community 
were frequently threatened with dissolution on account of 
the pressure of poverty, the many trials and privations, and 
above all because of the attitude that Bishop de la Hailan- 
diere assumed toward the sisters and their work. At times 
he was most kind and considerate, striving to do all that he 
could to assist them financially, and ever alert to secure 
desirable subjects for the community; again he was strangely 
dissatisfied with the results accomplished by the sisters whom 
he admitted were laboring under tremendous difficulties. 

The growth of the community, although not rapid, was 


steady. The clergy of the diocese of Vincennes were par- 
ticularly interested in adding to its numbers, as they hoped 
to have sisters from Saint Mary-of-the- Woods who would 
take charge of their parish schools. Mother Theodore, with 
a wisdom and prudence which characterized her every action, 
deferred as long as possible the establishment of these mis- 
sion schools, not that she shrank from the sacrifices and 
privations which she foresaw the sisters would have to en- 
dure, but she wished first of all to see them thoroughly 
formed to the religious life, and trained in their duties as 

The first mission was opened at Jaspar, Indiana, March 
19, 1842, with beautiful ceremony. The Blessed Sacra- 
ment was carried through the streets by the Bishop; the 
people followed, singing hymns. It was an unexpected con- 
solation to Mother Theodore to find that the pastor had 
provided a comfortable dwelling for the sisters and that 
the school had been properly equipped as far as limited 
means would allow. 

Her letter to Father Kundek, the pastor, gives us some 
idea of the sentiments with which she undertook the estab- 
lishment of this first mission : 

I hope to see you soon to recommend to you in a 
particular way the dear daughters whom we confide 
to you. May they promote the glory of God and re- 
spond to your zeal in behalf of your flock; this is my 
most ardent wish, and for this end we spare nothing, 
since we give you our dear Sister St. Vincent Ferrer, 
who is our assistant, to form this establishment. The 
Sisters with her are also filled with piety and good will. 
All leads us to hope that God will bless these first- 
fruits, even on the day chosen for their installation, 
which, by a happy coincidence, is Saturday, the day 
consecrated to the special veneration of Mary, our good 
Mother, and also St. Joseph's feast. 


The poverty of the beginnings of these first missions was 
extreme. One of Mother Theodore's letters gives a de- 
scription of St. Peter's, established in 1843: 

They occupy what was the original Mother House 
of the Brothers of St. Joseph (Holy Cross) in 
America. It is in the midst of the forest, a log house 
open to every breeze. The furniture consists of a 
table surrounded by old benches, two clothes-presses, 
two bedsteads equally fine, one chair made of the bark 
of trees and one of common wood. This is all, with 
a few kitchen utensils. Had I been there I should not 
have had the courage to allow them to pass the winter 
in such a house. I cannot conceive how the good 
Brothers could have lived there for a year. I think 
they must have left behind them their spirit of pov- 
erty, for when I proposed to the Sisters that they 
should quit their old shed and" return to St. Mary's, 
these poor dear children pressed me so urgently and 
extolled so highly the happiness of their position and 
the ^ good they could do and had already done, that I 
decided upon leaving them there until the retreat. 
Three of the principal personages of the borough 
came also as deputies from the Congregation, to en- 
treat me not to take away the Sisters. However, if 
after the month of August they are not rich enough to 
repair the log hut, buy a lock for the door, and some 
bedding, I shall order their removal. Imagine how 
heartily we laughed in the evening when, before retir- 
ing to what we called our dormitory, we were obliged 
to place the furniture against the door, because it 
possessed neither catch nor lock. 

At Evansville, established in 1853, the house was with- 
>ut furniture of any kind. The first night the sisters were 
bliged to spend with a charitable family. The next day 
Mother Theodore purchased from the community funds 
rhat furniture was absolutely necessary. Their school- 


rooms were in the damp and gloomy basement of the 
church. At Cannelton the priest's house was given to the 
sisters, but without any furniture until the ladies of the 
town furnished it. At Connersville the mission was so poor 
that two trunks had to serve for a table, and the sisters 
slept on straw on the floor for the entire first year. Is it 
any wonder that the work of these first sisters should be 
blessed with remarkable success, accompanied as it was by 
such sacrifices, poverty, and spiritual privations? 

Mother Theodore's letter to Bishop Bouvier reveals 
something of her own sufferings and anxiety in those days 
of poverty and trials, not least among which were real per- 
secution from the non-Catholics of Terre Haute who re- 
fused the sisters credit, and even threatened to burn their 
convent and school. 

Here, my Lord, it is true we have much to suffer in 
our deep forest, surrounded by enemies and having no 
other support than God alone. I, in particular, have 
sufferings which are personal, were it only that of 
having charge, almost alone, of a congregation already 
numerous, to whom sometimes I have not bread to 
give. Often I know not where or how to procure 
necessaries for the morrow. Without counting the 
many contradictions that happen daily there is the fear 
of being burned down by our enemies. How often in 
beholding my dear Sisters leave the chapel after night 
prayers have I not said to myself: it is perhaps the 
last time we shall meet there together at the feet of 
Our Lord I How often this winter have I not started 
out of my sleep thinking that I heard the flames and 
saw their terrible light! I believe that our situation 
here is not well understood. Sometimes I have felt so 
oppressed that I have thought I should be glad to 
die; but immediately thinking of my companions, I 
have been ashamed of my cowardice and have asked 
God's pardon. 


In 1843 t he community having sustained a great loss by 
fire and being in actual want, it was decided that Mother 
Theodore and a companion would return to France to 
solicit financial aid, and to make some final arrangements 
as to the relations between Ruille and Saint Mary-of-the- 

With the written approval of Bishop de la Hailandiere 
and having received his blessing, Mother Theodore and 
Sister Mary Cecilia left for France in April of 1843. After 
several weary months of comparatively unsuccessful alms 
gathering for her dear mission in Indiana, Mother Theo- 
dore was astounded to receive letters from Saint Mary-of- 
the-Woods stating that the bishop had conducted the annual 
retreat for the sisters, that he had admitted two novices 
to profession, and having deposed Mother Theodore from 
office had held an election of Superior General. This in- 
formation was confirmed by a letter from the bishop him- 
self dated August 23, 1843, in which he says: 

I preached the retreat to the Sisters; they were 
earnest and devout, and so far as my experience goes, 
that retreat has been useful. I received the vows of 
Sister Mary and Sister Agnes. Sister Mary Joseph 
was absent. 

Since your time as Superior of our infant house had 
expired, we had, on the feast-day of our blessed 
Mother, an election, the first which has taken place in 
the Community. You have been elected for three 
years, and until your return, which is expected toward 
the close of the year, I have myself appointed Sister 
Basilide to replace you. 

This letter of Bishop de la Hailandiere manifested to 
the superiors at Ruille and the Bishop of Mans, better than 
any previous accounts received from Saint Mary-of-the- 
Woods, the painful and precarious conditions under 
which Mother Theodore was laboring to establish her 


little community and to carry on her work of Catholic 

From the beginning, Bishop de la Hailandiere had ex- 
pressly stated that he had no intention of founding a reli- 
gious community, that he wished the rule followed at 
Ruille to be observed at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and he 
had repeatedly refused to consider Mother Theodore's 
resignation which she had several times proffered, when she 
saw that her administration did not in all things meet with 
the Bishop's approval. 

In Mother Mary's letter of appointment she had named 
Sister Theodore as "Superior of the Mother House" in 
Indiana, and "The Superior General of all the other houses 
which shall there be established later on, until the two pre- 
lates of Mans and Vincennes shall otherwise ordain." By 
special dispensation the Bishop of Mans had appointed 
Mother Theodore, "Foundress and Superior General for 
life> or as long as the interests of the new community re- 
quire." Bishop de la Hailandiere himself had requested 
the sisters to give her the title of Mother. In the light of 
all these facts the proceedings of Bishop de la Hailandiere 
at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods during Mother Theodore's 
absence seem inexplainable. 

Following the advice of the Bishop of Mans and her 
superiors at Ruille, Mother Theodore hastened back to her 
little community at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Her voyage 
was made memorable by the terrible storm at sea, the story 
of which is still told to visitors when they are taken to see 
the small, shell-lined chapel of St. Ann. This little shrine 
was erected in fulfillment of the vow made by Mother 
Theodore to thus honor her patron saint if she would save 
the voyagers from the perils of the sea. 

They landed at New Orleans, and the next day Mother 
Theodore fell ill of a fever which detained her another nine 
weeks from home and the anxious hearts that were lonsrine 


to welcome her. Sister Mary Cecilia and the two postu- 
lants who had accompanied Mother Theodore from France 
proceeded directly to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. 

It was not until April, 1844, that Mother Theodore 
found herself again in the midst of her little community in 
Indiana. She came back to them with added burdens of 
responsibility, for during her stay in France it had been 
decided by the superiors at Ruille and the Bishop of Mans 
that in compliance with the wishes of the Bishop of Vin- 
cennes, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods would be entirely inde- 
pendent of the community at Ruille. In the "Positions and 
Articles Proposed for the Beatification and Canonization 
of the Servant of God, Mother Theodore Guerin" it is 
stated that "though Mother Theodore suffered unspeakable 
anguish, she submitted humbly and courageously, bearing 
her cross for love of our Lord for Whose sake she had 
given herself to Indiana." 

The letter of Mother Mary to Sister Basilide at this 
time explains clearly and to the point the conditions upon 
which the foundation at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods was 

Sister Theodore being at Paris, I believe I ought 
to write to you for the peace of your soul. It appears 
that you have not quite understood the end of your 
mission in America, and the conditions under which 
you have been given your venerable prelate. . . . 

Six Sisters of Ruille were given to the Bishop of 
Vincennes to form a Congregation of teaching Sisters 
in his diocese upon the model of the Community at 
Ruille. The six Sisters given by Ruille belong, and 
will always belong, to Ruille, the parent Congregation. 
They remain free to return to it, with the consent, how- 
ever, of the Bishop of Vincennes ; but the Superiors of 
the Congregation of Ruille cannot recall them, and 
this is based on the principle that what has been given 


cannot be taken back without committing an act offen- 
sive in itself and in its results. The subjects who join 
the Sisters at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods will be imme- 
diately subject to the Bishop of Vincennes, not to the 
Superiors of Ruille. They do not pretend to exercise 
or retain any right over the new Congregation; so 
that, rny dear daughter, in explaining well the author- 
ity of Monseigneur the Bishop of Mans over our Con- 
gregation, you will find the measure of the authority 
of Monseigneur the Bishop of Vincennes. Endeavor 
to conform yourself to it. 

You will, perhaps, feel sorry that the Congregation 
of Ruille is now entirely separated from that of Vin- 
cennes; but, my dear daughter, how could you expect 
the Superiors of the Congregation at Ruille to retain 
the responsibility of a numerous Community estab- 
lished at more than two thousand leagues from their 
place of residence? A General Superior must co- 
operate in all that is of importance in the Congregation 
of which she has charge; now how could she visit the 
establishments, take part in acceptance or refusal of 
new houses or subjects; how watch over the temporal 
or spiritual welfare of her Sisters settled in America? 
So, for all these reasons, you stand in greater need of 
the authority of your Bishop and of his kind charity. 
Without it you would not do the good you are called 
to do. 

I hope that notwithstanding the estrangement your 
good Bishop shows for Ruille, which wishes him so 
well, and which has proved it and will prove it again, 
that he will not find reason to complain of the advice 
we have given you. . . . 

Your Congregation is called upon to do a great deal 
of good in that country, and you will have the glory 
and the merit of having contributed to it. 

Tell Sister St. Francis that I love her in America as 
I did in France. Communicate my letter to her and 


Sister St. Vincent; also to your almoner if you judge 
it expedient. 

All our Sisters love you, but no one is more attached 
to you than 

Your friend, 

Sister Mary, Superior General. 

In the Notice Historique of the Sisters of Providence of 
Ruille-sur-Loir, is found the following paragraph: 

Mother Theodore and her Sisters would have 
wished to remain always under the same obedience as 
the Sisters of Ruille. But the Reverend Mother Mary 
judged wisely that the presence of a Superior General 
was required at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods ; she saw 
that the Superior at Ruille could not assume the re- 
sponsibility of houses and of subjects two thousand 
leagues distant. The determination (to separate St. 
Mary's from Ruille) saddened all hearts but did not 
break the bonds that united them, and which still re- 
main the same. The two families make but one by their 
sentiments of the most religious and cordial charity. 
Before dying Mother Theodore said to her Sisters: 
u Write to our Mothers that I love them always and 
that I die in communion of spirit and heart with our 
dear congregation of Ruille." 

In confirmation of the above assertion it is interesting to 
note some of the passages in the letter of Mother Marie 
Julie, Superior General at Ruille, to the Superior General 
of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on the occasion of the celebra- 
tion of the golden jubilee of the latter community : 

The blessed day of the 22d of October, 1890, the 
fiftieth anniversary of your arrival in Indiana, you 
passed in the quiet enjoyment of recollection and 
prayer. . . . How sweet and very consoling it must 
have been to you to dwell in memory, on the many 
and delicate attentions which divine Providence has 


vouchsafed to bestow upon your cherished cradle at 
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. ... 

And now, my dear Mother, learning that the pupils 
of your Academy are preparing to celebrate the joy- 
ous event of its Golden Jubilee on the 24th of June, 
we extend to them our hearty congratulations. . . . 
In spirit and in heart we shall be with you. Ruille 
shall be all in festivity and rejoicing on the 24th of 
June. The holy sacrifice of the mass shall be offered, 
my dear Mother, for you, and for all your daughters, 
Sisters and novices, and for your dear pupils of the 
Academy. Neither shall your beloved departed be 
forgotten during that holy hour. 

It would give us great pleasure to receive the ac- 
count of your Jubilee celebration, for your joys are 
ours, you know it, my good Mother, as your trials are 
our trials. May this confraternity of our hearts and 
of our souls be always for you, and for us, a consola- 
tion, a strength in our labors here below, as they shall 
be our joy in heaven, where we shall be forever united 
in the bosom of God. 

The years from 1 844 to 1 847 were full of anguish and 
anxiety for Mother Theodore, though she had learned the 
lesson of suffering so perfectly that even her sisters did not 
suspect the affliction of her heart. The growth of the com- 
munity, the foundation of new missions, the visitation of 
these establishments, the supervision of the temporal and 
spiritual affairs of the community were a heavy burden; 
and added to these were Mother Theodore's continual frail 
health and frequent prostrating illnesses. Indeed her 
existence amidst the privations and hardships of these early 
days was almost miraculous. She bore her sufferings, how- 
ever, with invariable patience and sweetness. As soon as 
she recovered sufficient strength she would set out again on 
her journeys, though the roads were at times almost im- 
passable and the difficult modes of travel a veritable martyr- 


dom. She was deterred by no thought of self, if only her 
presence were needed or good could be done. 

The most crushing sorrows of Mother Theodore's life 
were undoubtedly those she had to endure in her efforts for 
the preservation of the rule and the very existence of the 
community. Though she had repeatedly asked the favor, 
she was never able to secure from the Bishop of Vincennes 
his written approval of the rules of the community for his 
diocese, and in consequence she was never assured of the 
permanency of the sisterhoods established in Indiana. A 
paragraph from the ''Positions and Articles" proposed for 
the beatification of Mother Theodore sums up in masterly 
terms the profound humiliations she had to endure through 
no personal fault, save her fidelity to the rules of the Sisters 
of Providence to which she and her sisters had vowed 

Trials of a most painful and unexpected nature 
were encountered by the servants of God in the atti- 
tude of the Bishop of the Diocese. During seven 
years she struggled for the Community's existence and 
the preservation of the Rule, harassed continually, op- 
posed, reprimanded, falsely accused, contemned, de- 
posed from her office, threatened with excommunica- 
tion, denounced to other Bishops at the Council of 
Baltimore, declared rebellious, she was finally expelled 
from the Community. 

In May, 1847, s ^e was excommunicated, and forbidden 
to return to Saint Mary-of-the- Woods. Upon the expulsion 
of the mother foundress, the sisters unanimously resolved 
to follow their beloved superior into exile, and hasty prep- 
arations were made to remove to another diocese where the 
community would at least be permitted to retain and observe 
their rule. The dioceses of New York, New Orleans, and 
Detroit were open to them. Circumstances had pointed to 
this climax and Mother Theodore, having previously ob- 


tained the permission of her Superiors at Ruille and of the 
Bishop of Mans for their removal from Indiana, had writ- 
ten Bishop Lefevrejof Detroit. This prelate had assured 
Mother Theodore the hospitality of his diocese and of his 
episcopal protection should the community decide to locate 

Just at the critical time, Bishop de la Hailandiere an- 
nounced to the sisters of Vincennes that the diocese would 
soon have a new bishop, his resignation having been ac- 
cepted at Rome. He stated also that he would leave the 
Sisters of Providence entirely to the direction of Father 
Corbe, their chaplain and ecclesiastical superior until the 
arrival of the new bishop. 

Mother Theodore was immediately recalled to Saint 
Mary-of-the-Woods by Father Corbe, and the sisters de- 
cided to await the coming of the new Bishop of Vincennes, 
the Right Reverend John Bazin. It is worthy of remark 
that Mother Theodore was never heard to complain of her 
anxieties and trials. Her councilors were the only ones 
who knew of the serious troubles of the community and she 
enjoined the strictest secrecy upon them. The sisters who 
knew Mother Theodore were unanimous in their testimony 
that she was "always the same," always serene and calm, 
full of dignity and sweetness, and with a manner which 
never failed to win confidence. Her sentiments during 
these years of suffering are admirably summed up 
in a brief passage of a letter written to Bishop Bou- 
vier: "I consider it the greatest privilege of my life 
that I have been permitted to suffer something for my 

The consecration of Bishop Bazin took place at Vin- 
cennes, October 24, 1847. Mother Theodore was unable 
to attend the ceremony on account of a severe illness, but 
she later received a letter from the bishop which gave her 
much consolation and hope. 


I was moved even to tears in reading your good 
letter. Bury the past in oblivion, or think of it only 
to bless the providence of God ^vho sent you crosses 
because He loved you. God never fails to test His 
true children. 

Rev. M. Corbe and your mechanic Sister St. Fran- 
cis Xavier have informed me of your difficulties. The 
future is yours. I shall judge you only by it and by 
your Constitutions. Please tell your daughters of the 
Woods also, that I shall be a father to you, and, like 
you, I entertain the same sweet hope that the enemy 
of all good will never succeed in disturbing the happy 
harmony that should exist between religious commu- 
nities and the shepherd of the flock. It seems to me 
that if we both seek the greater glory of God, we 
must necessarily agree. 

As soon as I can get off for a day I shall go to see 
you, which I hope will be soon. While awaiting this 
pleasure, I beg you to present to your Community my 
sentiments of devotedness and attachment; for your- 
self in particular accept the expression of my most 
profound respect and consideration. 

Bishop Bazin had occupied the See of Vincennes for only 
six months when he was suddenly taken down with an at- 
tack of pneumonia and died after a week's illness. His 
unexpected departure to another life was a great affliction 
to the whole diocese, and an overwhelming grief to the Sis- 
ters of Providence, toward whom he had shown the great- 
est devotedness. One may imagine the anxiety with which 
the community awaited the appointment of the successor of 
Bishop Bazin. But great was their joy when they learned 
that their new Bishop was to be no other than their devoted 
friend, the Right Reverend Maurice de St. Palais, of whom 
Mother Theodore wrote, "God has given us the one the 
whole diocese earnestly asked for since the death of Bishop 
Bazin.' 5 


It was Bishop de St. Palais who graciously acceded to 
the request of the sisters that Mother Theodore be retained 
in the office of Superior General for life. During his ad- 
ministration he maintained the policy of Bishop Bazin to- 
ward the community, for the sisters ever found him "a 
father and a friend in Jesus Christ." His most earnest 
desire was to see these devoted religious observing their 
rule in all its perfection that they might become fit instru- 
ments to accomplish God's will in the great work of Catholic 

Brighter and more prosperous days were now in store 
for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. The school had attained an 
enviable reputation, and the number of pupils was constantly 
on the increase. The work of the sisters in the mission 
schools was also deeply appreciated by the clergy and the 
people, and establishments were called for in almost every 
parish of the diocese. This esteem and encouragement 
was a great consolation to Mother Theodore, although her 
humility made her disclaim any part in the success of the 
work of the community, which she repeatedly stated was 
due, after God's blessing, to the self-sacrificing spirit of the 
sisters, whose devotedness and piety were her greatest com- 
fort and edification. 

In order to accommodate the number of students the 
academy building had been enlarged and improved, but it 
was not until 1850 that Mother Theodore decided to re- 
place the old farmhouse which, with the addition of two 
wings, had served as the convent during this first decade of 
the community's existence. In those days the building of 
a brick house at a distance from the city was not a small 
undertaking. The corner stone of the new convent was 
laid on the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1852, and on the sixth 
of August, 1853, th e sisters moved into their new home. 
Mother Theodore's journal contains the following nota- 
tions : 


June 13, 1852 The corner stone of our Mother 
House was solemnly blessed by Father Corbe. . . . 
My God, grant that all those who shall live and die 
within these sacred walls may be good religious 
Saints. Today we solemnize the Feast of Corpus 
Christi ; yesterday, Saturday, the first joists were 
placed. Mary ! 

July 20, 1853 The Cross is placed on the house, it 
is gilded as is also the globe beneath it. The world 
was saved by the Cross; glory, honor to the Cross I 
How consoling to see it raised up in the new world! 
My God, grant that it may triumph I 

August 6, 1853 On the Transfiguration we moved 
into our new house, My God, grant that we may be 
new creatures in Thy new dwelling which Thou vouch- 
safe to share with us. What love, my God, what 

April, 1854 They have finished painting our house. 
The woodwork of the parlor and large corridors, the 
stair balustrade are of walnut varnished. My God, 
grant that all who shall dwell in this house may love 
Thee much love one another and never forget why 
they came here. Grant that we may all be reunited in 
Heaven I 

If one should search through all the correspondence and 
instructions . of Mother Guerin, it would be difficult to 
choose more pertinent and luminous far-reaching influence 
of her little community than these brief jottings from her 

Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was the f ountainhead, 
one might say, of the spiritual life of Mother Theodore. 
Her one request when the foundation in Indiana was first 
proposed was that the sisters would have the privilege of 
daily Mass, for as she said, "When we have our good God 
with us we are strong." It was her delight to spend as 
much time as possible in adoration before the Blessed Sac- 


rament and her reverence and recollection in prayer were 

Mother Guerin's heart was overwhelmed with sorrow to 
see the poverty and destitution of the mission churches in 
Indiana, and through the generosity of friends she tried 
wherever it was possible to supply suitable altar linens and 
vestments. At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods her first care on 
securing a house for the community was to prepare the best 
room for a chapel, that the King of kings might have a 
more suitable dwelling than the miserable log hut they 
called the church. Under date of November 29, 1840, she 
writes : 

Today we have had the happiness of having Mass 
celebrated in our best room where the Blessed Sacra- 
ment has been reserved upon a poor altar, it is true, 
but more becoming than the one we found on our 

Days of Communion were days of great joy to Mother 
Theodore. Her instructions for the Feast of Corpus 
Christi are full of the wonder and the happiness of having 
Jesus Christ, the Emmanuel, ever present in the mystery of 
the Holy Eucharist. "If we truly knew how to appreciate 
it,' 7 she said, "it alone would suffice to fortify and sustain 


In 1843 the Devotion of the Forty Hours was held for 
the first time at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, and a compari- 
son of dates shows that this occasion marked the inception 
of the devotion in the United States. Each year, generally 
during the three days preceding Lent, this beautiful devo- 
tion in honor of the Eucharistic King is carried out with 
full solemnity. What joy must inundate the heart of this 
holy foundress in her heavenly home when she beholds the 
still greater marvel of love bestowed upon her community, 
in the Perpetual Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament now 
maintained at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods I 


Mother Theodore notes also that the first joists of the 
new convent were laid on Saturday. In an earlier passage 
we read: 

Thanks to Mary I They are beginning to make our 
brick in the month of Mary. My good Mother, it is to 
you we owe all our prosperity, spiritual and temporal ! 
Everything that has happened both pleasing and for- 
tunate has come to us on a day consecrated to Mary! 

Devotion to the Mother of God was characteristic of 
Mother Theodore from her very infancy. By her parents, 
she was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, and among her 
earliest recollections was that of being called the Blessed 
Virgin's petite file. No persuasion or punishment was 
so effective in correcting her childish faults as the sugges- 
tion that by them she would displease God's Holy Mother. 
Early in her religious life she made a vow to propagate de- 
votion to the Blessed Virgin, and her instructions, her zeal 
in celebrating the feasts of Mary, the many pious practices 
adopted by the community all testify to her tender love 
and devotedness, her unbounded confidence in the Queen of 
Heaven. To Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Con- 
ception, she consecrated Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, its con- 
vent, school, and church. It was due to Mother Theodore's 
zeal also that the first Sodality of the Children of Mary in 
Indiana was formally established at the mother house. 

"Glory, honor to the Cross! How consoling to see it 
raised up in the New florid!" Ardent love of the cross, 
a deep appreciation of sufferings, trials, and humiliations 
borne in union with her crucified Spouse, are written across 
every page of the life of Mother Theodore. For her the 
cross brought with it that infusion of heavenly sweetness, 
joy of spirit, and perfection of sanctity so beautifully 
pointed out in the Imitation of Christ. 

In the above passage, however, it is rather as a symbol 


of faith that Mother Theodore speaks of the cross. Truly 
that faith through the labor and self-sacrifice of missionary 
priests and sisters was beginning to renew the face of the 
earth in Indiana, to bring in triumph to the feet of the 
Crucified many souls that had been groping in ignorance 
and sin. This conquest of souls through the work of Catho- 
lic education was the object of Mother Theodore's most 
earnest labors and prayers. 

In season and out of season, as the Apostle of the 
Gentiles tells us, we must work for the interests of 
our Spouse Jesus. Piety is only another name for de- 
votion; and what is devotion but zeal? Try to inspire 
tender sentiments for our dearest Lord and His blessed 
Mother; for the angels whose ministry we share; for 
the saints whose bright example is our encouragement. 
Show them (the pupils) how sweetly tender is the 
Providence of God, that from their souls may go forth 
a touching homage of confidence and love; yet do not 
fail to set before them also the sterner truths; before 
we can expect to have much love we must lay the good 
foundation of holy fear, and this not simply fear of 
the justice of God in the punishment of sin, but of the 
least imperfection whereby we render ourselves dis- 
pleasing to the Heart of our divine Saviour. 

From the testimony presented during the Diocesan Proc- 
ess for the Beatification of Mother Theodore may be gath- 
ered the following fragments : 

Her charity embraced all classes, but her deepest 
affections seemed to be lavished on the ignorant, for 
whose instructions in the truths of religion she was 
most eager. Her soul was all aglow when she spoke 
of the beauties of our holy Faith, and the zeal which 
should animate us as religious teachers. 

Mother was unfailing in her devotedness to the 
cause of education, and whenever time permitted she 


attended the monthly examinations of the pupils at 
the Academy. 

Had it not been for her pious efforts there never 
would have been a St. Mary's! She would visit the 
poor, the sick, the reckless, and advise and console and 
help them for their good. When unable to go per- 
sonally, she would send some of the Sisters. It mat- 
tered not what the religion of the sick and needy; all 
were cared for alike by Mother Theodore 1 

As a pupil protestant at St. Mary's from 1849- 
1852, I saw her frequently when she visited the school. 
There was something so pleasing in her countenance 
that we hailed her coming with joy. Her words to us 
were so full of unction that I was drawn to her and 
felt how good to be here. 

"My God, grant that all those who shall live and 
within these sacred walls may be good religious Saints" 

That the sisters who were to form the foundation stones 
and supporting pillars of the community should be saints 
was the most ardent desire of Mother Theodore. With 
unfailing zeal and energy, she labored at her own perfection 
and used every means to urge her spiritual daughters to 
sanctify themselves. Throughout her letters, her instruc- 
tions, her personal admonitions, may be found the same 
exhortation, "We must be saints, for this is the Will of 
God: your sanctification." 

What have we to do to become saints? Nothing 
extraordinary, nothing more than we do every day; 
only to do it all purely for His love, uniting our ac- 
tions, however insignificant they may be, to those of 
our Divine Lord, our prayers to His prayers, pur work 
to His work, our repasts and repose to His refresh- 
ment and rest. 

In the Diocesan Process is the following testimony : 


friend ! We do not lose twice in life such a one as she 

Several days before her death, Sister St. Francis saw in 
vision the beautiful Spouse of her soul who told her that 
in a day or two she would be with Him forever, and she 
added that Mother Theodore would follow soon. 

On March 17, 1856, Mother Theodore was afflicted with 
another serious illness, from which she never recovered. 
She grew weaker day by day and finally on May 1 1 the last 
Sacraments were administered. With the dawning of the 
day on May 14 her soul took its flight heavenward, there 
to be forever with Him whom she had served so faithfully 
and well in the wilds of Indiana. 

Beautiful letters of condolence and tributes to the saintly 
character of Mother Theodore came to the sisters from ec- 
clesiastics, friends, and pupils in both France and America. 
Her reputation for sanctity and learning was widespread. 

Abbe Sebaux, later Bishop of Angouleme, in a letter to 
Sister Mary Joseph, writes: 

This worthy Mother has fulfilled in America a very 
difficult mission. . . . She has had the consolation of 
seeing her work admirably consolidated and developed 
with full prospects for the future of religion. And if 
Divine Providence now breaks the instrument too 
soon, alas ! our hearts repeat it is because the career 
of this worthy and excellent Mother has been long 
enough, rich enough in merits, the reward of which is 

Another friend writes : 

Mother Theodore was an apostolic, a valiant woman 
like St. Teresa; no undertaking was too great for her 
when the honor and glory of God were promoted by it. 

And from one who had known her through many busi- 
ness transactions: 


My recollection of Mother Theodore is that she 
was a remarkable woman, a model religious, guided 
by the spirit of God in all her undertakings. 

In many of the letters of ecclesiastics who knew her or 
who later read her life, in the testimony of her sisters, of 
friends, and of pupils may be found repeatedly the state- 
ment that Mother Theodore was considered a saint. Car- 
dinal Gibbons in his introduction to the Life of Mother 
Theodore Gnerin calls her "one of those religious athletes 
whose life and teachings effect a spiritual fecundity and 
secure vast conquests to Christ and His Holy Church. 
. . . She was distinctively a diplomat in religious organiza- 
tion and eminently a teacher." 

Father Coppens, S.J., styles her u a very superior woman 
both in natural gifts and in supernatural virtue. She lived 
a life of extraordinary union with God and conformity to 
His holy Will, and she practiced these virtues under the 
most difficult circumstances where they required heroic faith, 
hope, and charity." 

"She foretold to me," writes another, "that I should live 
to see this place a city, inhabited by saints and angels, while 
she herself would not live long enough to see it." 

Mother Theodore was buried near St. Ann's Chapel, but 
later her remains were transferred to the present Commu- 
nity Cemetery where they rested until December, 1907, 
when they were disinterred and placed in the crypt of the 
Conventual Church immediately under the main altar. On 
this occasion Mother Theodore's brain was found to be in 
a state of perfect preservation, and this more than fifty 
years after her death. Several physicians and specialists 
having examined the brain declared that its condition could 
not be explained by any natural process. The Right Rev- 
erend Bishop Chatard, who was present on the occasion, 
immediately took steps to organize the Diocesan Process 


for the Beatification of Mother Theodore. Many favors 
have been received through her intercession and the cause 
of the holy foundress is now pending in Rome. 

Marvelous developments have taken place at Saint Mary- 
of-the-Woods since the time of Mother Theodore. The six 
pioneer religious are represented by a community of over 
twelve hundred. Besides the college at Saint Mary-of-the- 
Woods, the sisters have charge of over eighty elementary 
schools and academies, in the archdioceses of Baltimore, 
Boston, and Chicago, and in the dioceses of Indianapolis, 
Fort Wayne, Peoria, and Rockford, with an enrollment of 
more than thirty thousand pupils. In 1920 another favored 
six sisters of Providence, this time from Saint Mary-of-the- 
Woods, left their beloved convent home for China to estab- 
lish there a school for the higher education of Chinese 

The "city" visioned by Mother Theodore has indeed 
been realized at the mother house. Over a campus of eleven 
hundred acres are scattered a group of buildings that for 
classic beauty of architecture are unrivaled in the country. 
The white stone church lifting high its graceful tower is 
symbolic of the noble ideals and sacred traditions of the 
holy foundress that are still embodied in the education 
offered by her daughters. Truly, though Mother Theodore 
sleeps, her spirit lives on in the hearts and in the work of 
the thousand more Sisters of Providence from the Mother 
House of St. Mary-of-the- Woods in Indiana. 



ON the western slope of Mount Royal, which stands like 
a guardian above the historic city consecrated to Mary, 
Queen and Virgin, little Emily Eugenia Tavernier saw the 
light of day on February 19, in the century year eighteen 
hundred. In her small person were united two names whose 
meaning became strikingly apparent as her life continued 
and in the work that became so great a part of it. The 
first was "Emily," which had been conferred upon her in 
baptism, and the second, "Providence," the title of the 
seignorial fief belonging to her father, and which was the 
happy home of her infancy. Like her patroness, St. Emily, 
she was destined to know the joys and sorrows of married 
life before she could arrive at the haven of religious per- 
fection: while the name of Providence, in the decree of 
Heaven, was preordained to become that of the future com- 
munity of which she was to be the foundress. 

A marked trait in the child's early years shows how 
strongly inclined her heart was to deeds of kindness. 
Charged with the pleasing duty of distributing the alms of 
the family to the poor, she burst into tears one day, because 
the bag that hung from the beggar's shoulder was so large ' 
and her gift so small that the latter seemed lost in the depth 
of his wallet. Nor would she be comforted this time until 
she had gained permission to give to him whatever dainties 
she could call her own. 

The long series of trials, destined to bring, about her 
absolute detachment, began at the early age of six years 
when she was bereft of both her parents by death. But 



God provided a second mother for the little orphan in the 
person of an aunt, Madame Perreault, who brought the 
child to her own home and treated her as one of the family. 

After an elementary course of studies at the Residential 
School conducted by the Sisters of the Congregation, Emily 
returned to live with her aunt. No pains were spared to 
initiate her in all the mysteries of household arts and 
sciences so necessary for the perfect formation of an accom- 
plished young woman. Very soon she excelled in these 
duties to such a degree that, at the age of eighteen, she was 
prepared to take full charge of her widowed brother's home 
and family. The new lady of the house made use of her title 
and her liberty in favor of her chosen friends, the poor. 
Her brother's dwelling soon became a hospitable refuge 
where they were always certain of finding, in addition to a 
hearty welcome, a warm shelter and food prepared and 
served by the young girl in person. From this period may 
be traced the beginning of a life to be wholly devoted, in 
the not very distant future, to the works of charity. She 
set aside a room close to the kitchen, which she termed her 
private office. Here she received the poor, waited upon 
them, and fed them at a large table which she called "the 
table of the King." 

But soon she was relieved of her duties in her brother's 
household by his second marriage, and then she returned 
to her aunt; shortly afterward she made her entrance into 
society. Here she found life very pleasant in the charmed 
circle where Madame Perreault was well and favorably 
known. Owing to her own amiable disposition she soon 
became a social favorite in a world she began to love ex- 
ceedingly and whose pleasures attracted her so strongly. 
But under the wise direction of her relative, Emily never 
deviated from the straight path of duty. All her actions 
were governed by the quiet modesty and reserve which so 
enhances the loveliness of a young girl. To her precious 


gifts of soul and intellect, were joined a natural dignity that 
impressed itself upon her every word and deed, and added 
such charm and graciousness to her manners as to compel 
the respect and admiration of all who knew her. From 
her letters of this period one may perceive the candor and 
simplicity of her soul. From them one may perceive that 
although she joined whole-heartedly in the pleasures of her 
time, yet never did she curtail the sacrifices which, unknown 
to her companions, she imposed upon herself. 

On the fourth of June, 1823, Emily Tavernier became 
the bride of Jean Baptiste Gamelin, a well-to-do citizen of 
Montreal, at a nuptial mass in the parish church of Notre 
Dame. She had dutifully prepared herself for this step by 
reflection and prayer. The autumn preceding her mar- 
riage, vague desires for religious life had manifested them- 
selves in her soul. But God, who had other designs, did 
not permit them to develop to such a degree as to render a 
higher vocation positive, and, hence she accepted without 
question her call to a life outside the cloister. 

But [as one of her sisters writes in her biography] 
the Autumn of 1822 was not the time fixed for her 
entrance into the Promised Land, of whose pure and 
holy joys she had been vouchsafed a glimpse. It was 
God's will to lead her by a much longer and more 
devious path to the work for which she was destined. 
A more complete and more varied experience of life, 
with trials more numerous and more painful, were to 
serve as the remote, but more perfect, preparation for 
the foundation of her Community. After the example 
of other holy Foundresses she had previously known 
the joys, the sorrows, and the duties of conjugal life. 
In the married state, as during her widowhood and in 
the religious life, she never ceased to give an example 
of the purest virtues. From her personal trials, she 
learned the secret of a deeper compassion for suffer- 


ings which she had herself experienced, and was enabled 
to console them more tenderly and effectually." * 

In addition to a respectable fortune, the husband of her 
choice possessed great virtue. Of a generous and compas- 
sionate nature, he was well worthy in every way to further 
the charitable inclinations of his young wife. And she in 
turn reveled in the happiness of looking forward without the 
least apprehension to a future opening out before her, rich 
with smiling promise. But the rare happiness that seemed 
installed forever beside that favored hearthside was doomed 
to take wings before the dark cloud of sorrow that was 
hovering near and which was soon to burst into a fierce 
storm of human agony. Deprived of her children, one by 
one, a few months after their birth, Madame Gamelin soon 
saw her domestic felicity completely shattered by the death 
of her devoted husband four years after her marriage. God 
had willed to destroy in one fell stroke the peaceful exist- 
ence she had thought hers in such security as a devoted wife 
and affectionate mother. This was but the beginning of her 
ordeal of trial! But the ruin of her happiness as wife 
and mother opened up in Madame Gamelin' s soul the flood- 
gates of more tender pity and greater compassion for the 
poor and unfortunate. It was the real beginning of a sub- 
lime vocation to be spent entirely for the sake of those 
whom the world has forgotten. 

Bereft of every human comfort, Madame Gamelin in- 
stinctively turned to God, seeking in prayer and the Sacra- 
ments the strength her soul so sadly needed in its hour of 
bitter trial. Too profoundly Christian to enwrap herself 
in dark and useless melancholy, she strove to find in re- 
doubled care and kindness toward her suffering fellow crea- 
tures, a soothing balm for a wounded heart, a pleasing 
occupation for her leisure moments, a safeguard for her 

1 Life of Mother Gamelin, Montreal, 1912, p. 17 et seq. 


liberty, and an increased fortitude for her afflicted 

In dying, her husband had left everything to his wife. In 
that generous bequest, he had included a singular gift. 
Years before he had assumed charge of a mental defective, 
who had become the object of the greatest care and devo- 
tion. Now that death was approaching, her husband asked 
Madame Gamelin henceforth to take care of the poor unfor- 
tunate "in memory of me and of my love." Madame Game- 
lin promised. She willingly accepted a legacy so strange as 
a precious token from heaven, and lavished every care and 
attention upon the forlorn, stricken creature, who from 
that moment became the corner stone of the edifice she was 
destined to raise for the honor of religion. 

Bidding .a last farewell to her present home on St. 
Anthony Street, after disposing of the major portion of her 
property, Madame Gamelin went to reside with her cousin, 
Madame Nowlan, and began her regular visit to the poor 
and the sick. In the wretched hovels of the poor outcasts 
of society, she discovered to what a pitiable state the help- 
less and aged poor were reduced. Her compassionate 
heart was touched at the sight of such abject misery, and 
she speedily determined to find some means of relief. She 
appealed to the Reverend Father Fay, parish priest of 
Notre Dame, for guidance and assistance; and he immedi- 
ately placed at her disposal for charitable purposes the 
basement floor of a small schoolhouse situated at the corner 
of St. Lawrence and St. Catherine streets. 

On March 4, 1828, the Asile for such it had already 
become opened its doors to admit a poor old woman, one 
hundred and two years of age, amply qualified by her long 
span of life for admission to a refuge especially destined for 
the aged; many others soon followed. By exception, a 
widow with her two children were also received to assist 
with the housework. In that modest shelter the happy 


refugees daily found clean beds, wholesome food, a fire in 
winter, and at all times the proper treatment required by 
their infirmities. It proved to be, however, a little center 
where the querulousness and whims incidental to old age, 
individual needs and lack of good breeding, raised many a 
storm which naught but the restraining influence of the 
Foundress Mother could calm. Realizing the necessity of 
residing near her protegees, Madame Gamelin rented two 
adjoining houses on St. Philip Street suitable for her pur- 
pose. In one of these she domiciled her old people, and 
reserved the other for her own dwelling. In this manner 
she was able to preside at their prayers, attend to their 
spiritual readings, and keep them all contented under her 
personal supervision. 

But at what a cost in self-renunciation, painful struggles, 
and overwhelming anxieties was all this accomplished I Covet 
sneers, open criticisms, and harsh censures were heaped upon 
the modest enterprise ; but like mists before the morning sun- 
light, they melted away before the perseverance and ulti- 
mate success of the charitable Madame Gamelin. Encour- 
aged, moreover, by the saintly Bishop Bourget of Montreal, 
his clergy, and many eminent laymen, she could afford to 
brave the scorn and contempt of ignoble minds. But out- 
ward opposition, at best, was not her principal torment. 
She had, besides, to combat the suggestions of the evil one 
who in her care, too, became the wily adversary of the great 
good she was accomplishing. Had she not presumed too 
much upon her own strength in a work whose future was so 
uncertain? Was it not tempting God to incur additional 
expense for the support of so precarious an undertaking, 
when already she had to fare forth each morning to market 
for the daily wants of her poor with an all but empty purse? 
In answer to these disquieting thoughts, Divine Providence 
often came to her assistance in a wholly unforeseen, if not 
miraculous, manner. The valiant, noble-hearted woman 


determined, therefore, to continue her work of love and 
self-forgetfulness which already had been so visibly blessed 
by God. 

Relying confidently for help from Heaven, Madame 
Gamelin considered enlarging her house at the moment when 
her meager resources were barely sufficient to meet the daily 
expense. She prayed and had her old women pray that 
the price for a new and better location might be forthcom- 
ing. Practical in this, as in all things else, she did not hesi- 
tate to address her request, likewise, to a generous citizen 
of Montreal, Mr. Oliver Berthelet, distinguished chiefly as 
God's provider for the indigent poor and sick of every sta- 
tion. Thanks to his liberality, Madame Gamelin and her 
little company of aged invalids were placed, on May 3, 
1836, in possession of a piece of property on St. Catherine 
Street, opposite the site of the present-day Providence Asile. 
This location, known in the Community Annals as the "Yel- 
low House" on account of its color, became from this date 
the cradle of the Institute. 

The new refuge, standing almost within the shadow of 
the episcopal palace, soon took on more active life and 
energy under the watchful eye of the bishop and his devoted 
clergy. The work grew apace and became impregnated 
with a forceful character of stability and regularity. In 
order to increase her revenue, Madame Gamelin had her 
protegees do different kinds of work according to their 
strength and ability. She then invited her friends to visit 
the Home ; they came gladly and never left without bestow- 
ing alms for the benefit of her wards. The priests of the 
Seminary of St. Sulpice also came to her assistance, and 
from these various sources, she was enabled, though at the 
cost of many hardships, to meet her increasing expenses. 

Madame Gamelin, nevertheless, did not confine her chari- 
ties within the narrow limits of her small refuge. She con- 
tinued her visits to the poor in their homes, and no matter 


how great the misery she discovered in her rounds, she 
always managed to find means for its relief. The cholera 
epidemic which ravaged Montreal in 1832, offered a vast 
field for her untiring devotedness. The political uprising in 
1837 permitted her fellow citizens to admire anew her 
universal kindness and charity. On account of the esteem 
and confidence she enjoyed, Madame Gamelin obtained, 
without the least difficulty, authorization to visit the prison- 
ers. Daily might she be seen crossing the threshold of the 
gloomy prison in those troubled times, carrying to the un- 
fortunate victims incarcerated there, in addition to mate- 
rial comforts, loving messages from their anxious families, 
and the consolations of faith, which only a soul so ardent 
as hers could inspire in such hours of general distress. 

A very serious illness during the year 1839 brought the 
venerated Madame Gamelin to death's door. But God lent 
a merciful ear to the pleadings of her poor, and He granted 
the boon of health they so earnestly solicited for their cher- 
ished Mother. Her strength and vigor gradually returned 
and she was soon able to resume her ordinary occupations. 

At the very outset of her career, Madame Gamelin had 
associated with her, in her works, some charitable ladies, 
either relatives or intimate friends, who were all most 
deeply interested in the welfare of the poor, and well able 
to second her generous designs. 

In the spring of 1841, she obtained from the Legisla- 
ture an act incorporating their Association under the title 
of "Corporation of the Aged and Infirm Women of Mont- 
real." Twelve married and single women founded the new 
association; and their first assembly was held on October 
22 of the same year under the auspices of Bishop Bourget, 
who already had made the work of Madame Gamelin the 
special object of his care and paternal solicitude. He had 
accorded the foundress and her aged women the privilege 
of daily Mass in the humble oratory of the "Yellow House," 


and the inestimable favor of keeping the Blessed Sacrament 
during novenas, the month of May, and on a few of the 
most solemn festivals. 

Soon after his return from a voyage to Europe, Bishop 
Bourget was able to impart unexpected glad tidings to the 
women of the new association, by which their ardor was 
increased and their hope animated to a wonderful degree. 
He informed them that while in Paris, the Superior General 
of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul had 
promised him some sisters for the foundation ready to 
blossom forth in his episcopal city, and under his immediate 
patronage. This idea of securing French sisters, he told 
the ladies, had occurred to him during his travels abroad. 
Likewise, it seemed to him a direct inspiration from 
Heaven, as no suggestion or agreement had been made to 
him by any person prior to his departure from Montreal; 
and, again, because the superior's promise had been so 
readily and graciously given. 

The news was enthusiastically received by Madame 
Gamelin and her associates, who decided at once to purchase 
a site, and to begin the construction of a building amply 
proportioned for the needs of a community and the develop- 
ment of its works. At this point in the proceedings, it 
would seem that Madame Gamelin might be justified in 
feeling some sadness at the thought that other hands than 
hers were to gather the fruit of her hard labors ; but it was 
far otherwise. Personally disinterested, and seeking only 
the good of the poor and the greater glory of God, she 
rejoiced at this unhoped-for solution of her grave embar- 
rassment. She unhesitatingly agreed with the ladies in the 
proposed purchase of a desirable piece of property near the 
cathedral at a cost of twelve hundred louis. This was, 
assuredly, a bold venture, yet it was justified by the inter- 
vention of Providence. A friend contributed four thou- 
sand, eight hundred francs. Public sympathy, roused to 


action by a strong pastoral letter from the Bishop, gave 
liberal alms in favor of the Asile\ the proceeds of a fair, 
and a collection taken up throughout the city, realized the 
sum of two thousand, six hundred louis ; and with this sum 
in hand, the projected construction was begun. 

Actuated by a lively spirit of faith, Madame Gamelin 
could not, meanwhile, keep within the narrow limits of 
mere human prudence; therefore, in order to draw down 
the blessings of Heaven, which alone could give the enter- 
prise life and vigor, she organized the systematic visit 
of the poor and the sick by the Ladies of Charity, and 
opened two general depots where soup was daily served to 
the needy. Such extraordinary zeal could not fail to pro- 
duce precious and abundant fruits. The following tenth of 
May, 1842, saw the blessings of the corner stone of the new 
convent. The ceremony was presided over by Monsignor 
Power, Bishop of Toronto, with great pomp and solemnity 
in the presence of a large gathering of people. 

When in June of that year, the Reverend John Timon, 
Superior of the American Vincentians, came to Montreal as 
the representative of his Superior General in Paris, who 
was also that of the Sisters of Charity, he found in Madame 
Gamelin another Louise de Marillac who had done so much 
for St. Vincent to carry out his charitable designs. He 
blessed Madame Gamelin and her coworkers, and gave them 
a rule modeled on that drawn up by St. Vincent for the 
Ladies of Charity in Paris. So encouraged were the Mont- 
real women that they determined to visit the poor and 
sick in their homes. Soon afterward, the country parishes 
and the villages followed the example of Madame Gamelin 
in Montreal, by organizing associations of Ladies of Char- 
ity. The most prominent women in Longueuil, Terrebonne, 
St. Hyacinthe, and Laprairie felt honored when the presi- 
dency was conferred upon them. 

Everything was moving smoothly and happily toward the 


desired end, when, suddenly and without warning, there 
came the disastrous blow, which cast consternation in the 
ranks of the organizers, and plunged Bishop Bourget into 
the deepest anxiety! A letter from the Superior General 
of the Daughters of Charity, through Father Timon, 
brought the disheartening news that no sisters could be sent 
to Montreal from France as had been promised I The al- 
most simultaneous foundation of two new houses of the 
community, respectively in Algeria and in Rome, rendered 
it impossible, for want of subjects, to accept the asylum in 
Montreal. Again and again arose the anxious query: 
"What is to be done?" 'To make an appeal to another 
French community would take precious time. And, besides, 
to what community other than the handiwork of the great 
Vincent de Paul could they have recourse ? 

God's own hour had now come I The veil that hid His 
inscrutable designs was raised ever so slightly! And the 
bishop, doubtless, after many a prayer, come to a mighty 
decision. In his success, lay the proof that his inspiration 
came from Heaven. Facing his keen disappointment most 
heroically, he instantly resolved to found a diocesan com- 
munity, similar in aim and rule of life to that of the Daugh- 
ters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and to install it in the 
new A Ale. In response to an urgent call for volunteers five 
young women of the diocese presented themselves. A 
sixth, already engaged in the work, joined them. The lat- 
. ter, Miss Magdelen Durand, had been the friend and faith- 
ful companion of Madame Gamelin from the beginning, and 
was the acting vice-president of the corporation. 

The Bishop accepted these recruits, and made them begin 
a novena preparatory to the Feast of the Annunciation. The 
three last days were spent in the exercises of a retreat; and, 
on March 25, 1842, seven instead of six novices received 
the Holy Habit from his hands in the primitive little ora- 
tory of the "Yellow House." The seventh had arrived 


unexpectedly at the Asile on the eve, or first day, of the 
novena. In the absence of the Bishop, who was making his 
own retreat with his priests, Madame Gamelin had taken 
it upon herself to admit the new recruit. Fortunately, 
enough material remained, after making the costumes for 
six, for a seventh outfit. This fact coincided strangely with 
an incident that occurred during the Bishop's previous trip 
to Europe. One day, while gravely preoccupied with the 
question of establishing the Daughters of Charity of St. 
Vincent de Paul in his diocese, he went to pray at the far- 
famed cathedral of Chartres. Hardly had he finished his 
prayer, when an unknown, elderly lady approached and 
begged him to accept the seven chaplets of Our Lady of 
Seven Dolors which she offered him. But to him there 
came no enlightening dream the following night, as for- 
merly to Bishop Hugh of Grenoble, predicting the arrival 
of St. Bruno and his six companions, nor did seven bright 
stars fall at his feet. But God foreknew and foresaw alll 
In His omniscience, He seemed to have established by this 
mystic number a harmonious accord between the seven sor- 
rows of His mother and the seven victims, whom He desig- 
nated to serve Him in the persons of His suffering members, 
the poor. In very truth, seven victims were immolated on 
that altar of sacrifice in the " Yellow ""House" on that 
memorable twenty-fifth day of March. Even though one 
of the first postulants returned to the world, seven still re- 
mained to pronounce their vows, and the seven privileged 
ones wore at their side the chaplets of Seven Dolors their 
father had received in the distant Basilica of Chartres I 
The second was none other than Madame Gamelin herself, 
who stepped into the place left vacant by the dismissed 
postulant I For so sudden and complete a transformation 
to occur within so short a space of time was brought about 
with no little struggle before arriving at so momentous a 
decision. No one can for a moment doubt the unparalleled 


sacrifice it must have cost this woman to* venture forth alone 
toward God on the thorny path of unconditional self-sur- 
render to His good pleasure. 

Long ago had she renounced all that savored of vanity 
and love of ease to lavish her modest patrimony more ex- 
clusively upon the poor, yet it was a far cry from that point 
to her complete destitution in the religious life. She had 
already reached the mature age of forty-three years; she 
had tasted the absolute freedom of doing her own will for 
the past fifteen years; the good works in which she was 
engaged were all of her own choice and inclination. And 
now, to relinquish all that made life pleasant, in order to 
become a humble Sister of Charity; to be as pliant and 
docile in -the hands of superiors as the youngest novice, to 
learn the first rudiments of the religious life all this was 
a profound abyss through which her soul, gifted with super- 
human abnegation, alone could pass. Nature whispered 
to her that there was no need of so whole-burnt an offering; 
she could remain at the head of the work and direct it by 
her loving devotedness, by her superior wisdom acquired 
in the stern school of adversity, by her strong will, purified 
in the saving waters of affliction, and by her firm faith in 
the conviction thaCGod would strengthen and confirm His 
. work and renderftfiS future permanently secure; she could 
rely upon the assured prestige of her position for the pres- 
ent, and the alluring prospect of a happy old age, mellowed 
and sweetened by the veneration, admiration, and respect 
of her poor, her orphans, and of the young religious whose 
mother she would always be. But grace whispered more 
insistently still, and finally triumphed. The entrance of 
her loyal friend and faithful companion, Magdalen Durand, 
the spontaneous outburst 'of fraternal charity among the 
young novices at the departure of one of their number 
all this had made a deep impression upon her tender heart, 
and reawakened her earlier desire for the religious life. 


Moreover, on the second day of February, 1842, she had 
already bound herself by vow to her present state of life: in 
itself, a secret but virtual step forward to a public and 
inviolable contract. On that day, she made a vow "will- 
ingly and with great joy," to quote her own words, to live 
the remainder of her days in perfect continency; to serve 
the poor to the fullest measure of her ability; to exercise 
more restraint in her conversations; to retrench from her 
attire any and all appearance of luxury and personal adorn- 
ment. "I desire to give myself unreservedly to God," she 
wrote in her journal. "Let Him do with me whatsoever 
He pleases. I submit to all with entire resignation. Help 
me, O my God, in the resolutions I take this day." How 
much our Lord's conditional invitation to the higher life 
costs poor human nature I Even in Madame Gamelin's soul, 
the conflict between nature and grace was long and hard. 
Nature showed how helpful she could be to the new com- 
munity, tortured with a thousand and one difficulties beset- 
ting an enterprise wholly unknown and surrounded with 
every privation; grace, on the other hand, held before her 
eyes the merits and supreme joy of complete self-immola- 
tion. And yet, in spite of all, poor, craven nature begged 
a truce. 

Sadly agitated by these and similar disquieting thoughts, 
Madame Gamelin found in the person of her spiritual 
father, the good Bishop Bourget, a most persuasive inter- 
preter of God's will in her regard. Acting upon a lively 
impulse of faith, and with a view of overcoming the last 
vestige of doubt and hesitation, he invited her to kneel with 
him in prayer in the chapel, for divine light and guidance. 
After an hour of common fervent communing, Madame 
Gamelin arose, vanquished at last by grace and fully deter- 
mined to obey the call of God, Her director, Monsignor 
Prince, no longer able to urge any further obstacle to a 
request, seconded by so victorious a combat, permitted her 


to replace the novice whose departure had caused such deso- 
lation in the little religious family, 

Before assuming the habit of a religious, Madame 
Gamelin was advised by the bishop and superior to visit 
some charitable institutions in the United States-. She was 
told by the bishop to see the real Daughters of St. Vincent 
at work, and if possible to work with them. Madame 
Gamelin undertook this journey in order that she might 
render more and more perfect the work which God had 
already crowned with so many favors. She visited their 
establishments in New York and Boston, and finally went 
to the mother house of the American Sisters of Charity, 
in St. Joseph's Valley, Emmitsburg, Maryland. Her repu- 
tation had gone before her into this cradleland of charity 
in the United States where her devotion to the prisoners 
and the needy were well known. She made constant and 
devoted friends of Mother Xavier Clarke and Mother 
fitienne Hall, successors to Mother Seton in the govern- 
ment of the American community. This marks the begin- 
nings of the friendship that exists to-day between Madame 
Gamelin's Sisters of Charity of Providence and the 
American Sisters of Charity, Mother Seton's cornette 

Madame Gamelin returned to Montreal on October 6, 
1843, bringing back with her the much desired Rules of 
St. Vincent de Paul. Father Deluol, Vicar-General of Bal- 
timore, and Superior of the Sisters of Charity, had given 
her the copy, thanks to the good offices of Mother Xavier 
Clarke, who had been very close to Mother Seton v in the 
establishment of the American Sisters of Charity. The 
copy was the very same one that Bishop Flaget had obtained 
In 1810, from the Superior-General of the Vincentians in 
France. The precious document was transcribed for the 
Sisters of Charity of Providence by Canon Blanchet, and 
returned to Father Deluol. Inexpressible was the joy and 


thankfulness with which this rule was received by the nov- 
ices in Montreal. They recognized in it the most certain 
guide for their religious life, and a source of strength for 
the community. 

Two days after her arrival in Montreal, Madame 
Gamelin finally put off the habiliments of the world, to 
clothe herself with the poor and humble livery of the Sis- 
ters of Charity of Providence. 

And now the sacrifice was consummated! Madame 
Gamelin had made it valiantly as became a noble soul, 
but at what a cost of anguish and desolation notwithstand- 
ing the powerful aid of Divine grace ! Well she knew all 
that the rule and the common life would require of her 
day by day, nor did it occur to her to try to evade even 
one of the smallest points of either. From the moment 
of her investiture, Sister Gamelin was the perfect novice 
she desired to become, and what Canon Prince, superior of 
the community, sternly exacted of her she did without com- 
promise or exception. Like her sisters, she was reduced 
to the extremely meager fare of the "Yellow House," and 
this was continued without mitigation in the new convent. 
The daily meals consisted of left-overs from the tables 
of friends; the beverage, weak tea from the second infusion 
of leaves sent in by the neighbors. She did her good share 
of the hard laundry work on the river bank in summer 
whither she went with all who could be of assistance. In 
the winter season the same work was done at the house 
by means of melted snow. They were forced to resort to 
methods so primitive, because they were too poor to pay 
for city water. 

Accustomed hitherto to a life of comparative ease, 
Sister Gamelin sought neither glory nor merit for herself 
in what she considered her duty, and a cross she was to 
carry like Our Lord faithfully to death. He alone knew 
the extent and value of the manifold acts of general self- 


renunciation offered Him in the secret of her soul. The 
high ideal she proposed to herself necessitated absolute 
immolation; it imposed heroic combats against her natural 
vivacity of character, and it forced her to the utmost watch- 
fulness over her every word and deed, since upon her 
devolved the inexorable duty of setting her young sisters 
a shining example of every virtue. Sister Gamelin neither 
faltered nor failed in her difficult task. The day of her 
religious profession found her prepared for that solemn 
engagement, and she made it in all the fervor and joy of 
her soul. 

The first seven novices of the new institute made their 
religious profession on the twenty-ninth day of March, 
1844. Before a large assembly, the chaplain of the Asile 
read the pastoral letter of canonical institution ; he reminded 
the sisters, kneeling at the foot of the altar, and their suc- 
cessors, that henceforth the world would know them no 
longer, that their sole duty hereafter would be to wipe 
away the tears of the widow and orphan, to feed the hungry, 
to nurse the sick, to receive the last sigh of the dying, to 
enshroud the dead; in fine, to perform all the spiritual and 
corporal works of mercy. He gave them the rules of St. 
Vincent de Paul, and the act of acceptance which they 
signed the following day. Bishop Bourget received the 
vows of each novice individually, and bestowed upon each 
the silver cross and ring, symbol of her indissoluble union 
with Jesus, the Spouse of Virgins. Each ring was placed 
on the finger of the sister to be professed by a poor, infirm 
woman, who at the same time said: "Remember, my sister, 
that to-day you have become the Servant of the Poor." 
After the act of consecration to the Blessed Virgin, and 
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Te Deum was 
intoned. The newly professed sisters, escorted by the lady 
benefactresses, the aged women, and the little orphan girls, 
who had all taken an active part in the ceremony, filed out 


processionally to the adjoining ward, chanting the Ecce 
Quam Bomtm. The Institute of the Daughters of Char- 
ity, Servants of the Poor, was now a living foundation. 
On that day how many hopes were realized, how many tor- 
menting doubts dispelled, and how many adjudged follies 
became wise conceptions! The wise and merciful designs 
of God had triumphed over all obstacles and Sister 
Gamelin and her associates stood upon the threshold of a 
new existence. 

Nevertheless all was not completed. The outline only 
of a grand plan was faintly traced. Later on Bishop 
Bourget, in a pastoral letter to the community, told of the 
agony of soul he endured during the ceremony of the first 
religious profession on beholding those seven victims pros- 
trate at his feet, and so trustingly confiding their all to him. 
He told how the appalling prevision of the unhappiness and 
misery, ready to overwhelm them should unforeseen obsta- 
cles arise, stamped itself indelibly upon his heart at that 
hour, and seemed to pierce it through and through with 
one of the swords of sorrow that transfixed the Mother 
of Dolors at the Foot of the Cross. The firm, unwavering 
trust of the holy prelate in God's most adorable Providence 
conquered and put to ignominious flight the wicked sug- 
gestions of the tempted. God Himself had inspired the 
work. He would bring it to a successful issue. 

Meanwhile in Sister Gamelin's heart, a minor strain 
of sadness mingled with the joyous tones of her Magnifi- 
cat. Entering, in company with her sisters, upon a new 
mode of life, knowing but little of the methods of per- 
severing therein, and still less of how to guide others in 
the path of holiness, she could not see how she was to lay 
the foundations of an institute on a solid basis. In addition 
to financial worries, there were privations of all sorts to 
be endured, hard and constant labor to undergo. There 


were, besides, the organization of the different works to 
be conducted by the sisters, and the initiation of the mem- 
bers in lucrative industries in order to assure the means 
of honest livelihood for the community and support for its 
protegees. But the sight of these various difficulties did 
not dampen the ardor of the foundress mother. Too many 
times already had she experienced the maternal solicitude 
of Divine Providence in behalf of the poor and their hum- 
ble handmaiden to yield now to temptations or discourage- 
ment. She knew that every work from on high must be 
signed and sealed with a stamp of humility, of privation, 
and, above all, of faith triply refined in the furnace of afflic- 
tion. The charge committed to her care bore the required 
marks as proof of its divine origin, and she was content. 
Elected superior of the community on March 30, 1844, 
Mother Gamelin accepted the post, not as an honorary 
title, but as a heavy burden whose obligations she was 
determined to fulfill to the very letter. 

The utter destitution and poverty of those early years of 
foundation were so extreme that to-day it seems impossible 
how the first Sisters of Providence accomplished so vast an 
amount of labor without sinking beneath the hardships they 
had to endure. Strong in her confidence in God, Mother 
Gamelin drew therefrom the great energy and courage she 
needed amid the embarrassments and difficulties of an 
administration growing daily more and more complicated. 
Regarding these privations, Mother Gamelin's biographer 
says : 

In addition to their exterior works, the care of forty- 
two infirm women had to be divided between our first 
Mothers, who had to multiply themselves in providing 
for the needs of the poor. Madame Gamelin never 
gave herself an instant's rest. Her dear Asylum was 
lacking in much of the necessary furniture. There 


were scarcely enough chairs to permit each one to sit 
down after the fatigue of the day; and during the day, 
they never thought of sitting down at all, though the 
hour of rising was half past four. 

Their poverty was very great, their food extremely 
frugal. It is difficult to understand how our Mothers, 
in the midst of such privations, could accomplish the 
amount of work which they imposed upon themselves. 
The survivors of that period, and it may be said of 
the succeeding fifteen or twenty years, have left a 
touching picture of the painful privations which they 
had to endure, and which they bore so patiently, and 
even joyfully. Their food consisted of sheep's head 
boiled in water. Every day, being a fast day by the 
Rule, their breakfast consisted of dry bread, watered 
by a sort of artificial coffee, made of barley, ground 
and roasted, or crusts of fried bread, collected in the 
hotels of the city, and taken always without milk or 
sugar. At supper, they made a diversion in their 
beverage by means of the leaves of tea, which had 
been previously infused in the boarding houses of the 
vicinity. Butter was a rare luxury, reserved for days 
of abstinence, to replace the fat of bacon, or other 
meat, which had been received through charity. If by 
chance, another offering of charity in the form of a 
bit of cheese appeared upon the table, the Sisters had 
to choose between that unusual delicacy, and butter, 
the use of both together being forbidden. "We were 
poorer," said one of those generous servants of the 
poor, "than many of the indigent families whom we 

And in spite of all that, they were happy, because 
they had the consolation of knowing that they repro- 
duced in themselves the poverty of their Divine Mas- 
ter whose naked and suffering members they had vowed 
to serve, and the consciousness of accomplishing a work 
signed with the seal of the cross, by humility, depriva- 
tion and charity. 


Mother Gamelin had implicit faith in the power of 
prayer; and, when too sorely pressed, she could be seen 
going through the wards of the sick and the poor, begging 
her dear children to unite their feeble, quavering voices 
with hers in singing her favourite hymn, Douce Provi- 
dence. This same hymn, sweet to her daughters as a 
mother's parting blessing, is still sung with trusting confi- 
dence when danger threatens or peril is near them. Mother 
Gamelin loved to sing the songs of Sion. It is related of 
her that, when clouds of sadness and gloom seemed lower- 
ing, she would intone a pious canticle for all to join in 
refrain. Fancy pictures the admirable scene I The foun- 
dress mother, herself nearly overcome with the weight of 
her charge, and tormented with her own interior trials, 
bravely hides her personal feelings, the better to sustain the 
drooping courage of her daughters; for their sake, she 
maintains an exterior ever cheerful and serene. 

Mother Gamelin's life in religion was foreordained to be 
of short duration; and, as though she had a premonition 
of approaching death, she hastened to multiply on all sides 
her deeds of benevolence. Like the sower sowing the seed, 
she scattered her good works broadcast over the land. In 
the beginning of May, 1844, she opened a ward for orphan 
girls. A short while later, she organized, for the benefit 
of the poor, the Banquets of Charity which have become 
traditional in the houses of the Sisters of Providence. 
Nothing pleased her more than to witness the keen satis- 
faction enjoyed by the old women at these banquets where 
the tables were laden with good things furnished by friends 
and benefactors. 

The dimensions of the Asile having become too small, 
it was a great sorrow to the superior to be unable to accept 
all who applied to her for admittance. She submitted her 
perplexities on this score to the sisters and the Ladies of 
Charity, and they, yielding to her entreaties, decided to 


enlarge the Asile, with confidence in Divine Providence as 
their only resource ; but Mother Gamelin counted upon the 
immensity of a treasure that never yet had failed her. The 
enlargement was accordingly begun, and early in the autumn 
of 1848, the aged poor were comfortably installed in better 
and more commodious quarters. 

In 1846, Mother Gamelin founded successively the mis- 
sions of Longue Point and Laprairie. Firmly imbedded on 
the solid rock of poverty and trial, these two establish- 
ments, like the mother house, were destined to make rapid 
progress, and to become fruitful in good works. 

The year 1847, notable chiefly for the frightful epidemic 
of typhus fever, afforded the community the opportunity 
of becoming the consoling angel of the victims of that dread 
scourge. Night and day, the sisters lavished every care 
upon the plague-stricken. Mother Gamelin spared no pains 
to replace those who nobly fell at their post of duty beside 
the unfortunate strangers within the city's gates. She 
opened a refuge, where over six hundred and fifty children 
belonging to the Irish immigrants were sheltered. A great 
number of these little ones died of the fever; others were 
reclaimed by surviving relatives, or adopted into different 
Canadian families; while the remainder found a home in 
the community which provided generously for their future 
welfare. Twenty-seven of the sisters were stricken down 
with the disease; of this number, three went to their eternal 
reward. Profoundly afflicted by the disaster threatening the 
very existence of the young community, Bishop Bourget 
made a vow in the name of the professed sisters to burn 
seven candles every Friday, in perpetuity, at the mother 
house in honor of our Lady of Seven Dolors. The Blessed 
Mother heard his earnest appeal. No others took the 
fever, and very soon, indeed, all were convalescent and able 
to resume their duties. 

After the strenuous days 'of that dark period of trial 


were ended, Mother Gamelin thought not of rest for her- 
self. She was keenly absorbed, at the time, with the ques- 
tion of servants out of employment. For their benefit, she 
succeeded in finding room for them at the Providence, and 
she formed them into a society under the patronage of 
St. Blandine. 

The exterior development of the institute was not, how- 
ever, the only aim of the foundress. Attentive to the 
interior progress in virtue and in the spirit which should 
animate each of the members, she made use of every means 
to stimulate and develop the zeal and fervor of her daugh- 
ters in the path of perfection, serving them in this, as in 
the outward works of charity, as model and guide. She 
frequently implored Bishop Bourget for the favor of a 
pastoral visit, or for an annual retreat. The prelate always 
acceded graciously to her legitimate desires. By his coun- 
sels and encouragements, he upheld, corrected, strengthened, 
and fortified his spiritual daughter. Desirous of firmly 
grounding them in the true spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, 
he incessantly recommended to them the practice of humil- 
ity, simplicity, and charity; he exhorted them constantly to 
make these three virtues their distinguishing characteristics. 
In his instructions, he often dwelt upon the excellence and 
the merit of devotion to the Passion of Our Lord and the 
Sorrows of His Blessed Mother; by constant meditation 
thereon, he assured them they would, eventually, become 
true lovers of the Cross. 

Mother Gamelin was well qualified to understand these 
sublime lessons of holiness. Long since had she learned 
to seek her only consolations and comfort on the Mount 
of Calvary; and to the Sorrowful Mother standing beneath 
the cross she had always confided her own anguish of soul. 
To that Mother's protection now, she attributed the mar- 
velous progress of the institute. The Passion of her Lord 
and the Sorrows of His Blessed Mother were the oft- 


recurring themes of her meditations, and in them she found 
irresistible attraction. Nevertheless, nowhere is it recorded 
that she enjoyed the delights of spiritual consolation. The 
stray notes of her journal rather reveal a soul upon whom 
God was pleased to lay the weight of interior trial and 
desolation, with little other encouragement than that of her 
great faith and confidence in His Divine Providence. 

In 1849, an epidemic of cholera ravaged the city. 
Mother Gamelin could not prevail upon Bishop Bourget 
to permit her to devote herself personally to the care of 
the victims. It was heartbreaking for her to stand aside 
while her daughters went courageously forth on the perilous 
mission she would have shared with them. She consoled 
herself in a way, however, by opening an emergency hos- 
pital for the plague-stricken. 

In 1850, Mother Gamelin undertook a second trip to 
the United States, in order to qualify herself better for the 
organization of the works of charity on a broader scale. 
Together with a companion, Sister Ignace de Loyola, she 
visited the institutions of the Sisters of Charity in Albany, 
New York, and Emmitsburg. Everywhere she was received 
with the greatest cordiality, and found in some of the 
houses kindly remembrance, as well as the sympathetic 
acquaintances, of her first journey. She drew closer the 
bonds of friendship which united her with Mother fitienne 
Hall of St. Joseph's mother house, Emmitsburg, with whom 
was maintained a mutual interchange of letters and good 
offices. In the month of August of the same year, Father 
Burlando, superior of the American Sisters of Charity, 
visited Montreal. He preached in the chapel of the Sisters 
of Providence and invested the sisters with the Scapular of 
the Passion. Some dozens of these scapulars, made as is 
usual of red cloth, had been graciously sent to the sisters 
by Mother Etienne of Emmitsburg. The priest congratu- 
lated Mother Gamelin on the excellent condition and the 


progress of her work, and expressed his happiness at seeing 
the spirit which St. Vincent de Paul had bequeathed to his 
daughters flourishing in Canada, through the action of 
events no less clearly providential. 

A few months after her return from the United States, 
Mother Gamelin, amid storms of protests, inaugurated the 
work of the deaf-mutes at Longue Point. Aided by Sister 
Marie de Bonsecours, and in spite of every opposition, she 
steadfastly continued the enterprise. In February, 1851, 
she succeeded in opening a class with only two deaf-mutes 
for pupils I The number gradually increased, however, 
until the undertaking was finally crowned with success. 
This great work in behalf of countless "souls in prison" 
proved to be the crowning jewel of Mother Gamelin's casket 
of good deeds. 

Proportionately with the increase of her foundations and 
labors, Mother Gamelin was forced to multiply her acts of 
zeal, vigilance, and abnegation, all of which, necessarily, 
absorbed her time and consumed her strength. Such activ- 
ity demanded some respite, some time of rest, and this well- 
merited repose, God was soon to give his faithful spouse. 
Out of pure love of Him, she had spent herself in the 
exercise of a charity that knew neither boundary nor limita- 
tion, and now He alone was to be her reward exceeding 
great. Realizing the decline of her physical strength she 
wrote in her Journal of Retreat in 1849: 

It seems to me, that I have but a short time to live 
upon this earth ; it is necessary for me, then, once for 
all to put my hand to the plough, without ever looking 
backwards. I hope all from the mercy of our good 

As 1851 approached, Mother Gamelin seemed to feel 
that death was not far away, and all during the summer 
she busied herself more than usual in "putting her house 


in order/ 1 September came, the time for a Community 
Council meeting. Hitherto the ecclesiastical superior 
appointed by Bishop Bourget had presided over the Coun- 
cils of the Community. But Monsignor Prince had lately 
resigned the office of superior, and Mother Gamelin begged 
the bishop to preside over the next council. The bishop 
responded by authorizing her to preside for the future, 
judging her perfectly capable of acquitting herself well of 
that function. That reply, at first, alarmed the humility 
of the foundress, accustomed as she was to receive direc- 
tion from her ecclesiastical superiors in all her deliberations. 
But she made no difficulty in following the decision which 
she recognized as the will of God, and consequently pre- 
sided, for the first time and for the last over a Council of 
the sisterhood, for this September 22 was the last day of 
her life. During the meeting she made a most pressing 
exhortation to her sisters on the obligations of their state, 
recommending very specially charity toward the novices. 
The session over, her features bore the impress of unusual 
joy and serenity, the first ray as it seemed of that eternal 
happiness wherewith God was soon to crown His faithful 
servant. During the evening recreation, her joyousness was 
most remarkable; she little realized that the coming night 
was to herald the advent of the grim Messenger with all 
his attendant terrors. Awakened suddenly at the early 
break of day by violent pains she recognized at once the 
symptoms of the dread scourge which had already claimed 
three of her daughters for its victims. Calling to her com- 
panion, sleeping in the same room, she exclaimed: "My dear 
child, I have the cholera! ... I am dying 1" 

She was immediately removed to the infirmary, but no 
one dreamed the end was so near. In deep affliction, the 
Ladies of Charity, the poor old women, and the little 
orphan girls passed the whole day in the chapel, and vied 
with the sisters in imploring Heaven to spare their beloved 


Mother's precious life. This time, however, the final hour 
had struck, and God would no longer delay the reward His 
daughter had so richly merited. 

Mother Gamelin had always feared the approach of 
death. Her great terror in finding herself attacked by the 
fatal malady weakened her power of resistance and hastened 
its progress. Profound peace and resignation to God's 
Holy Will, nevertheless, soon took possession of her heart, 
verifying the words of St. Vincent de Paul: "Whosoever 
hath loved the poor during life shall have no fear at the 
hour of death." Fortified by the last Sacraments of the 
Church and the prayers of Bishop Bourget, her habitual 
calmness of demeanor returned. Surrounded by her daugh- 
ters whom she embraced in one long regard of motherly 
tenderness and affection, she awaited the coming of the 
Eternal Summons as that of a great friend upon whom 
she depended to transport her safe to the Heart of her 
Beloved. Wishing to give her religious family her last 
dying recommendation, she faintly whispered a few broken 
words to the devoted prelate kneeling by: "This is your 
dying Mother's last will and testament," said he to them 
in a voice choked with emotion. "Let it be the foundation 
of your perfection: Humility, Simplicity, Charity." Toward 
noon of the same day she lost consciousness. Her daugh- 
ters' watch of love and prayers continued until late after- 
noon when her soul passed into the great Presence Cham- 
ber. The tidings of her passing spread through the wards 
of her poor, and the homes of her friends and benefactors 
where naught was heard save the weeping and lamentations 
of her children who could not be comforted. 

All that was mortal of Mother Gamelin was laid away 
to rest in the crypt beneath the chapel of the mother house. 
On the marble tablet, bearing her name and the date of her 
death, the following words from the Book of Proverbs 
(xxxi. 1 6) may be read: "She hath considered a field, and 


bought it, with the fruit of her hand she hath planted a 
vineyard" ; also the prayer of her daughters : "Watch over 
thy children." Simple the wording of her epitaph; but for 
those who knew her and felt the greatest of her being, how 
vast the meaning! 

Foundresses must die, but the work of God goes on for- 
ever! When Mother Gamelin died that autumn day in 
1851 nine houses and forty-nine professed sisters made up 
the congregation of her building. To-day the houses num- 
ber more than a hundred in Canada and the United States, 
whereas the professed sisters have almost reached the three 
thousand mark. What a glorious harvest this blessed 
foundress takes each day to the Throne of Grace ; for her 
daughters attribute their increase and success to no other, 
after God, than their beloved Mother Gamelin. Their 
work has spread into the frozen North and across the 
Rockies to the sea. To the aged and the outcast they have 
given homes that are really homes; to the foundlings and 
the orphans they have become mothers in the truest sense 
of the word; to the sick and dying they have made them- 
selves angels of mercy and consolation ; to the afflicted mind 
and the poor deaf-mutes, whom they lovingly call their 
"souls in prison," they are a benediction. Thousands of 
children are cared for in the parochial schools under their 
care; thousands of prisoners are visited yearly and instructed 
in the mysteries of religion. And thousands have been the 
long night watches these daughters of Mother Gamelin 
have kept in the houses of the poor where sickness and 
suffering valiantly borne have made them blessed places of 
sacrifice in the eyes of the Almighty. These are but a few 
of the precious souvenirs that are a constant reminder of 
the greatness of this woman. In viewing the ensemble of 
this unusual life, one may catch a gleam, faint though it 
may be, of the mystic golden thread that runs through the 


warp and woof of her beautiful existence. It discovers for 
the world, moreover, the secret mainspring of her activity. 
It is the golden cord of charity that knit her soul as one 
to those of the poor and afflicted, that bound her a prisoner 
of love to the compassionate heart of her crucified Jesus. 



AT Mountrath, County Queens, in Ireland, there used to 
be an old estate called Belbrook House. Around it was the 
charm of greensward and hedgerows, rippling streams and 
nooks of shrubbery. Here, about the year 1810, was born 
Mary Frances Warde. Those were the days when the 
penal laws and the Rebellion of '98 had left the traces of 
their ravages on the prosperity and happiness of the Irish 
people. The infant soul of Frances must have imbibed the 
beauty of her environment with every respiration of her 
young life; for, as a child, as a young woman, and as a 
religious, she was an intense lover of the beautiful in this 
world, and an ardent craver for the infinite beauty of 

Frances was the youngest of the five children who blessed 
the marriage of John Warde and Jane Maher. Mrs. 
Warde died shortly after the birth of her little daughter. 
Thus, this child, destined for great things in the mind of 
God, was called upon, through the tender period of child- 
hood and the confiding years of girlhood, to make the sac- 
rifice of a mother's care and love. 

John Warde was absent from home when his wife died. 
It is said that on his return he yielded to such excessive 
grief as to endanger his health. Although he lived for 
several years afterward, he was never again the vigorous 
man he had been before this great sorrow. Mr. Warde's 
second son, studying at Maynooth, was taken dangerously 
ill when near his ordination, and died on the day selected 
for him to be raised to the holy priesthood. Helen, a sweet 



girl in her eighteenth year, her father's favorite, and the 
flower of this interesting family, died soon after her brother, 
leaving her father a broken-hearted man. A maternal aunt 
took charge of the household affairs after Mrs. Warde's 
death, and continued her benevolent task until Frances 
Warde had reached womanhood. 

Frances received her education from private tutors, 
supervised by her sister Sarah, but her aunt reserved for 
herself the responsibility of the child's religious instruction. 
She spent many hours telling sweet, soul-stirring stories to 
the little girl seated at her knee, stories which awakened an 
intense love of God in the pure heart of the child. To this 
early training can be traced the deep faith, the trustful 
love, and the holy fear of God which filled the innocent 
soul of Frances Warde. Her happiness knew no bounds 
when she was told to prepare to receive Our Lord for the 
first time. Later she received Confirmation from the noted 
Bishop Doyle. Frances was deeply impressed by her first 
Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation. 
From this time may be dated her earnestness in winning 
souls to God. The gay little girl, well burdened with a 
store of delicacies coaxed from her aunt, would trip away 
to the homes of poor old women and hungry-faced chil- 
dren. Before leaving their cabins, she would gather the 
children around her to catechize and instruct them in reli- 
gious truths. 

Many years later, when the family had left Mountrath 
and taken up their residence in Dublin, Frances wejit into 
society, where her fascinating personality and superior qual- 
ities of heart and mind brought her much notice. She was 
carried away by her desire to please, and soon visits, parties, 
and other amusements were her delight. She threw her 
whole energy into these rounds of enjoyment, sparing no 
pains to excel in the art of pleasing. This sprightly eager- 
ness of disposition added to her attractiveness, and made 


her the ruling spirit wherever she happened to be. Tall, 
well proportioned, with a dignity of bearing that character- 
ized her to her last day, she could have graced a court, 
or added dignity to the poorest cottage. The expression 
of her face bespoke the strong tendencies of her character. 
Her forehead was high and commanding; her eyes, deep 
blue ones, often twinkled with merriment as she surprised 
the dejected into a lively sally of wit or playfully smoothed 
over some disagreeable occurrence. Her character was a 
strong combination of candor and common sense, offset with 
sweetness and firmness. Apart from her genuine sincerity, 
perhaps her most lovable traits were her delightful sim- 
plicity of manner and depth of feeling. Any demand on 
her sympathy was met with heartfelt kindness. 

At this time the vanities of the world were not at all 
distasteful to her; but when she turned her eyes upon her 
innermost soul, she recoiled from the consciousness of her 
neglect in doing what was required of her in order to please 
God perfectly. Her firm principles of faith stirred up the 
old ardor of God's love, and there came into her heart 
a fear that she had offended the true Lover of souls 
by her coldness toward Him in her moments of infatua- 
tion with the world. Father Armstrong, her confessor, 
explained to her the terrible responsibility of wasting the 
precious time given by God for high and holy pursuits in 
a round of idle pleasures which, though trifling, were, 
nevertheless, offensive to the Great Judge. Touched by 
these considerations, Frances deeply regretted her ingrati- 
tude and insensibility. Humbled and penitent, she prayed 
for grace to see what God wished her to do. In giving her 
a rule for the useful employment of time in doing some 
particular good, Father Armstrong recommended her to 
teach a few hours each day in the poor schools which 
Catherine McAuley had lately opened in Baggot Street. 
She complied, and a strong friendship grew up between these 


two gifted women. Frances never tired of teaching in the 
schools and instructing in the House of Mercy, and her 
intense ardor in her work attracted other young ladies to 
join those already inspired with zeal for the charitable 

In May, 1828, the institute had progressed so rapidly 
that the Divine impress seemed to rest on it. On Septem- 
ber 24, 1828, the Feast of Our Lady of M'ercy, Archbishop 
Murray gave the institute permission to adopt the title of 
Sisters of Mercy, and be placed under the protection of 
"Our Lady of Mercy." Mother McAuley chose the Pres- 
entation Rule as best adapted to the duties of the rising 
order. Later this rule, devised and modified by the found- 
ress, was authorized and approved by the Holy See. 

On September 8, 1830, Catherine McAuley went to the 
Presentation Convent at George's Hill to commence her 
novitiate, accompanied by Anna Maria Doyle and Eliza- 
beth Harley. The Presentation Nuns welcomed them 
warmly and provided generously for their thorough train- 
ing in the principles of the religious life. On December 9, 
three months after their entrance, the three postulants were 
clothed with the religious habit, retaining their baptismal 
names with "Mary" prefixed. 

On December 12, 1831, at the end of an eight days' 
retreat, Sisters Mary Catherine, Mary Ann, and Mary 
Elizabeth made their profession, with the proviso that the 
rule of life they would follow would be in accordance with 
the performance of the duties of a Sister of Mercy. The 
Archbishop had received authority from the Holy See to 
establish the new institute. 

After their profession, the new religious hastened home 
to Baggot Street, to the joy of Franc'es Warde and her 
fellow novices. The day after their return His Grace, 
Archbishop Murray, canonically appointed Sister Mary 
Catherine the Mother Superior of the new order. 


On January 23, 1832, Frances Warde, with six other 
postulants, presented herself for the habit of religion. The 
name Mary Francis Xavier was given her at this ceremony. 
Her choice of patron would seem providential, for as St. 
Francis Xavier was associated with St. Ignatius, the founder 
of the Society of Jesus, so she was associated with Cath- 
erine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. As 
he turned away from home and friends, from honors and 
fame, from the land of his birth and his heart's affections, 
to carry the light of the Gospel to heathen lands, so she, 
with sorrowing heart yet joyful soul, bade farewell to her 
dear native Erin to spread Christian education in the then 
great missionary country of America. And when she met 
with difficulties and hardships in her missionary career, the 
same zeal and love for God, burning in her breast as in 
that of her patron saint, never permitted any contact with 
coldness or indifference to lessen the warmth of her first 
fervor. As St. Francis Xavier revered St. Ignatius, writ- 
ing to him on his knees as an exterior mark of his inward 
veneration, so did Mother. Xavier Warde love and respect 
the foundress from whom neither distance nor time ever 
subtracted one iota of the love of her great heart. 

The cholera of 1832 will be long remembered in Ireland. 
So panic-stricken were the people over its approach that 
many actually died of fear. His Grace, the Archbishop, 
and the Board of Health made frequent requests to have 
the sisters attend the afflicted populace. Mother McAuley 
did not hesitate but came immediately to the rescue, taking 
charge of the Cholera Hospital. The pres'ence of the sis- 
ters had a comforting effect on the poor patients. They 
trusted these gentle nurses and would accept from their 
hands any remedy offered. The sisters, while applying to 
the body the necessary remedies, did not forget the kind 
work of consolation, nor fail to remind those whom they 
visited of the duty to reflect, and prepare their souls for 


the sentence of death, if decreed by the Eternal Judge. 
The sisters ministered faithfully to every victim of this 
dread disease until the pestilence had quite disappeared 
from Dublin, and in all their ministrations, though hun- 
dreds died around them, not one of the religious died from 
its effects. After the cholera had disappeared from Dublin 
came the epoch of real misery. During this time the sisters 
used every exertion to afford all the relief in their power 
to the destitute. 

In May, 1835, the solemn approbation of the Holy See 
in a formal document was granted to the newly founded 
order, accompanied by the Apostolic benediction. On 
July 5, 1841, the Rules and Constitutions were confirmed 
by His Holiness, Pope Gregory XVI. 

The first foundations of the new institute were made at 
Tullabeg and Charleville. When a petition came from 
Bishop Nolan for a foundation at Carlow, Mother McAuley 
chose for Superior Sister Mary Xavier Warde, her secre- 
tary for many years, and now her Mother Assistant, though 
this selection entailed great inconvenience to the parent 
house, and on April 10, 1837, Mother McAuley, Mother 
M. Xavier Warde, and four other sisters set out on their 
journey to Carlow. 

Here Mother M. Xavier had much to occupy her atten- 
tion in overseeing the plans and building of a new convent, 
the first one founded outside Dublin. At the time of its 
erection it was considered the finest convent structure in 
Ireland. ' 

A little later, Father Gerald Doyle applied for Sisters 
of Mercy to establish themselves in Naas, a thriving little 
town in Kildare where bigotry was rampant The Bishop 
referred Father Doyle to the foundress in Dublin and to 
Mother Xavier Warde in Carlow. Arrangements were 
speedily planned that the foundation should be sent out 
from Carlow. Mother Xavier founded the Convent of 


Mercy in Naas on the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, Sep- 
tember 24, 1839. She remained with the foundation in this 
ancient seat of the kings of Leinster until the works of 
mercy were well organized. Bigotry soon gave way, and 
before the end of the first year the sisters' schools were 
attended by several hundred pupils; while among the sick 
poor, the comfort given, and the aid afforded by the tender 
ministrations of the nuns, will only be known at the Judg- 
ment Seat of God. 

Doctor Keating had been Bishop of Ferns, a diocese in- 
cluding the county of Wexford and part of Wicklow, for 
nearly twenty years when, in 1839, he applied for Sisters of 
Mercy to establish free schools. Mother McAuley knew 
the spiritual needs of the children and grandchildren of the 
brave men who fell, unconquered, in the massacres of '98. 
Therefore it was the delight of her heart to be able to send 
her religious, as "angels of mercy," to educate the youth, 
and to cheer and comfort the poor and sick among the near 
descendants of those heroes of faith and fatherland. The 
charge of founding this house was given to Mother Warde, 
who with six sisters left Carlow early in December, 1840. 
The house was opened on December 8, the Feast of the 
Immaculate Conception. The first convent was a miser- 
able dwelling which in its poverty was often truly com- 
pared to the stable at Bethlehem. This condition of things 
was, however, of short duration. Soon, through the gener- 
osity of several kind benefactors, they had a neat, well- 
planned convent, arranged and furnished throughout in 
conventual order. It is a fact worthy of notice that all of 
Mother Warde's foundations commenced with small begin- 
nings, but each has been blessed by God with a success far 
beyond the expectations of the most sanguine. 

While the work of the order had been thus extending, 
Mother McAuley's health had been failing. In October, 
1841, she seemed to apprehend that her days were drawing 


to a close. She had set all things in order, and having 
arranged papers and important concerns of the community, 
remarked, "All is now ready." She gradually weakened 
from day to day until Monday, November 8, when she 
received the last Sacraments. She died about five in the 
evening, on November n, 1841. 

A few months before Mother McAuley's death, Very 
Reverend Dean Burke had applied to her for sisters for 
Westport Mother Warde made the foundation Septem- 
ber 5, 1842, and remained at Westport until all the works 
of mercy were well established. The convent thrived and 
has sent out large foundations to different towns in the 
vicinity, as well as to Australia. 

In 1835 Father Michael O'Connor, pastor of St. Paul's 
Church, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, was named first Bishop 
of Pittsburg. He went to Rome to beg of the Pope to 
reconsider the appointment, alleging, as his excuse for 
declining, his strong attraction toward the Society of Jesus. 
"My one great desire," he said, "is to become a Jesuit." 
The reigning Pontiff, Pope Gregory XVI, considered it 
better that he should accept the miter. "A Bishop first; a 
Jesuit afterward," he said. Father O'Connor was conse- 
crated in Rome, August 15, 1843. From Rome he pro- 
ceeded to Carlow to represent to the sisters the great need 
of religious teachers in his diocese and to urge that great 
good would result from their labors in America. 

Bishop O'Connor's appeal for religious was wisely con- 
sidered and after much prayer and deliberation it was 
decided that seven of their number should be sent to Pitts- 
burg, with Mother Warde in charge of the foundation. 
Each of the twenty-three sisters in the Carlow convent 
cheerfully volunteered to embark for the New World' if 
God desired the sacrifice. Mother Mary Cecilia selected 
Sister Mary Margaret O'Brien, Sister Mary Veronica 
McDerby, Sister Mary Philomena Reid, Sister Mary 


Aloysius Strange, Sister Mary Josephine Cullen, Sister Mary 
Elizabeth Strange, and Mother Mary Xavier Warde. 

Mother Warde and her companions bade farewell to 
their convent home on All Souls' Day, 1843. On their 
arrival at Liverpool the missionaries went to St. Ethel- 
burga's Convent and remained some time with their Eng- 
lish sisters. Mother Warde, with her special facility for 
giving instruction, was kept busy instructing adults pre- 
paring for the Sacraments. They came in such numbers 
that immense crowds were collected at the gate where they 
passed in and out. 

On November 10, the Queen of the West, the largest 
vessel crossing the Atlantic at that time, was in readiness 
to set sail. The voyage was a stormy one and fears were 
entertained for the safety of the vessel. Many of the 
steerage and cabin passengers were ill, and the sisters spent 
much of -their time in ministering to them. Diaries kept 
during the voyage record many edifying examples of 
patience in suffering and resignation to the Holy Will of 
God practiced by the poor emigrants on board. 

December 10 brought the ship in sight of land. The 
Bishop and several other gentlemen went on shore late in 
the evening, but the sisters remained on board until the 
following day, when they were received on shore by Bishop 
O'Connor and other eminent persons. They were brought 
to the residence of Bishop Hughes, who gave them a cor- 
dial greeting and introduced them to Mother Harden and 
her community of religious of the Sacred Heart, asking 
hospitality for the Sisters of Mercy until the latter could 
commence their journey to Pittsburg. The Religious of the 
Sacred Heart were kind beyond measure, a favor gratefully 
remembered by Mother Warde and her own religious. 

Three days later they started by rail for Philadelphia 
where they remained four days with the Mother Seton 


Sisters of Charity from Rmmitsburg. During this time 
many of the clergy and laity called at the convent to wel- 
come them to the United States. Miss Emily Harper of 
Baltimore, a granddaughter of Charles Carroll of "Inde- 
pendence" fame, was among the number who paid their 
respects to the sisters. A warm friendship commenced here 
between Mother Warde and Miss Harper, who became 
a noted benefactress of the convents established by the 

On December 18, .the sisters took the stage for Pitts- 
burg, which they reached December 21. They went directly 
to the cathedral where they heard Mass and received Holy 
Communion. The Sisters of Charity brought them to the 
orphan asylum and entertained them until the next day, 
when they took up their abode in their own convent, a four- 
story building on Penn Street. It contained a well-finished, 
airy basement which was used for a school in the early days 
of the foundation. Mother Warde ordered all the neces- 
sary furniture immediately, and on Christmas Day the 
different apartments were furnished as became a religious 
house. The sisters were greatly consoled at the coincidence 
of the birth of the order in the United States with the 
blessed time when the Christian world commemorates the 
birth of the Divine Redeemer. 

The first postulant, Miss Eliza Tiernan, entered the novi- 
tiate February 2, 1 844. She was twenty-five years old, an 
accomplished woman possessed of great personal attrac- 
tions, burning with a holy ardor to do great things for 
God and His poor. Miss Margaret O'Brien, a postulant 
who came from Carlow at the time of the foundation, 
received the habit and white veil February 22. After the 
first few months, many subjects entered the novitiate. 

Mother Warde spared no pains in establishing her sub- 
jects solidly in the principles of the spiritual life. In the 


early days on Penn Street, she gave frequent admonitions 
to the religious on the qualities that should characterize the 
Spouse of Christ. She never tired of repeating: "Let not 
your thoughts rest on earth ; keep them buried in the Divin- 
ity, and busy yourselves about spreading God's Kingdom 
in the hearts of men." 

She had the faculty of seeing noble qualities in every one, 
and the more she observed defects of character and train- 
ing in those she governed, the more careful she was that, 
while cautiously and tenderly using the "pruning knife," 
she made them feel that she had a high estimate of their 
worth.' She dealt with those she admonished as if they 
were diamonds needing but a little polishing to show their 
brilliancy. Mother Warde realized that human nature 
loves to be trusted, and human beings sometimes fail in 
their efforts to attain nobility of character for the want of 
the helpful sympathy and good opinion of those whose 
appreciation they value most. 

Bishop O'Connor considered the establishment of a 
boarding school with an academical course of study, a nec- 
essary work of mercy in his diocese. There was no such 
institution for Catholics in all Pennsylvania at that time, 
and much expense and many embarrassing circumstances 
attended the placing of children at distant academies. 
Mother Warde took the same view. A generous benefac- 
tor, Mr. Kuhn, donated the "Kuhn Farm" for the site of 
the new school. 

Father Gallagher, the pastor at Youngstown, placed his 
own house at Mother Warde's disposal until the new school 
should be ready. The academy opened with fifteen pupils. 
Before the year had elapsed there were eighty in the build- 
ing. When the school was removed to the new St. Xavier's, 
there were over one hundred pupils, sixteen of this number 
being Protestants. 

The Sisters of Charity in charge of the orphanage with- 


drew in 1845, on account of a pressing need in what was 
considered a more necessary field of labor. The Sisters of 
Mercy were appointed to take charge of the orphans. 

A new hospital was in course of erection, but when the 
epidemic of typhus broke out in 1847, ^ sisters opened 
a temporary hospital. It was soon occupied by typhus 
patients, and sick, broken-down soldiers returning from the 
Mexican War. In May, 1848, sisters and patients took 
up their abode in the new building. 

In 1848, on account of the emigration from Ireland, the 
school attendance was doubled ; the visitation became exten- 
sive ; and the hospital work increased because many patients 
arrived with "ship fever." Night and day the sisters did 
their duty diligently in the deadly typhus wards, comfort- 
ing the dying and winning souls to God. Five choir sisters 
and three lay sisters caught the disease in their ministra- 
tions and died martyrs of charity. Mother Warde became 
so broken down in health from her constant attention to 
the sick and dying that Doctor Addison ordered her td leave 
the hospital at once. Sister Xavier Tiernan, then Mistress 
of Novices, left her duties in the novitiate to aid in the 
hospital work. She labored in a close ward, consoling and 
encouraging the poor victims with heavenly hopes, until 
she sank exhausted. It was Mother Warde's cross not to 
be allowed to assist this dying religious, who was her first 
subject in America, and, indeed, a hidden saint. But the 
superior's own condition was serious at this time. 

About this time the Reverend Father Quarter of Chicago 
invited Mother Warde to plant the order in what was to 
become the "Garden City of the West." He urged his 
request repeatedly until the foundress acquiesced in the sum- 
mer of 1846. She selected six religious for the foundation, 
with Sister Mary Agatha O'Brien for the superior. The 
bishop's "palace," a small cottage at the corner of Michigan 
and Madison avenues, was given to them for a convent, 


while he took up his residence with Father McElhearne, 
the rector, in a wretched hovel near the cathedral. 

At one end of their shanty-convent stood a dilapidated 
frame building. This, Mother Warde and the sisters 
arranged and beautiful inside, with the help of the Bishop's 
private purse, until it was, perhaps, the prettiest and best- 
equipped school building on the shore of Lake Michigan. 
Among the pupils who flocked to this school were children 
of trappers, border men, hardy settlers, and sea-faring 
men, with their unformed minds and guileless hearts ready 
to receive every impression of goodness, beauty, and knowl- 
edge given by the religious, who were happy beyond measure 
in their work. Mother Warde enjoyed the spontaneous 
vivacity of these bright, matter-of-fact youngsters, and 
often laughed till the tears ran down her cheeks, as she 
related droll stories of the unique originality which they 
evinced on all occasions, even in saying their prayers. 

After some months absence, Mother Warde was recalled 
to Pittsburg, to the deep regret of her Chicago sisters whom 
she was never to meet again until the blessed reunion in 
Heaven. The evening before her departure she gave them 
a parting exhortation, dwelling especially on the spirit of 
poverty, love of the poor and the faithful- practice of the 
small acts of virtue. Mother Warde's ideal of the religious 
teacher was high. She impressed each with the thought 
that the teacher was the angel of the children under her 
charge, the keeper of their innocent hearts, into which she 
must infuse a love for virtue and the practices of our holy 
religion. She insisted upon the cultivation of a spirit of 
prayer and recollection. 

On the way to Pittsburg Mother Warde traveled with 
Bishop O'Connor through the domain of "The Apostle of 
the Alleghanies," Prince Gallitzin, and the Bishop told her 
of instructions he had received from the prince-priest before 
his death to bring sisters to educate his dear little moun- 


taineers. Standing on the summit of the Alleghanies, the 
Bishop exacted a promise from Mother Warde to send, at 
her first opportunity, a branch of her pioneer community 
to labor there. Her promise was redeemed in 1848, when 
she founded a branch house at Loretto and placed the zeal- 
ous Sister Mary Catherine Wynne in charge. 

In 1850, Bishop O'Reilly of Hartford negotiated with 
Bishop O'Connor for Sisters of Mercy to establish schools 
in Providence. He stipulated that the religious chosen to 
take charge of this foundation should be a woman of prayer, 
tact, and good judgment, for bigotry was rife in Providence 
at that time, and it was expected that she and her com- 
munity would be exposed to some degree of persecution. 
After much reflection and prayer the Sisters for the Provi- 
dence foundation were appointed: Reverend Mother Xavier 
Warde, Sister Mary Paula Lombard, Sister Mary Camillus 
O'Neil, Sister Mary Josephine Lombard, and Sister Mary 
Joanna Fogarty. 

Only brave, prayerful women could cope with the trials 
awaiting the first sisterhood in Providence, but Mother 
Warde's unbounded confidence in the protection and bless- 
ing of Almighty God kept her cheerful and patient in the 
face of discouraging events. She spent long hours before 
the Blessed Sacrament, and from the King of Kings she 
asked and received help in the day of trouble. 

On a certain eventful evening a mob surrounded the con- 
vent. As the rioters made their way up the street, the 
Catholic men of Providence, well armed, took up their 
places, rank and file, in the sisters' garden. Perfect quiet 
reigned within the convent. The novices knew nothing of 
what was going on without. They enjoyed their evening 
recreation as usual, said their night prayers, and retired. 
The older sisters remained on guard before the Blessed 
Sacrament. A few assisted Mother Warde, who, with the 
utmost self-control, quietly made her way through the ranks 


of men within the convent enclosure, and exacted from each 
a promise that no firearm should be raised, nor offense 
given, unless they were called on to do so in self-defense. 

The rioters noted the calm dignity and self-composure of 
the revered Mother as they drew up in line before the con- 
vent; and one was overheard remarking to his colleagues 
on either side, "We made our plans without reckoning the 
odds we will have to contend with in the strong controlling 
force the presence of that nun commands. The only honor- 
able course for us to follow is to retreat from this ill- 
conceived fray. I for one will not lift a hand to harm 
these ladies." But the mob hissed and hooted at these 
words, and threatened the sisters with death if they did not 
leave their convent. At this juncture, the Bishop and Mr. 
Stead, the former owner of the convent, appeared at the 
front entrance. Mr. Stead, with the courage of a Spartan 
and the serenity of a saint, addressed the mob in the fol- 
lowing words: "The first shot fired at this house will go 
through my body. Let me tell you there is a strong force 
of brave Irishmen, well armed, within the enclosure of the 
garden walls. If you dare to attack the convent or the 
religious, they will defend them with their hearts' blood." 

The Bishop then came forward, and said, in grave, clear 
tones: "My dear friends, in God's name, let not this city, 
nor the free institutions of this republic, be tarnished by 
any dastardly uplifting of your arms against those who 
have wrought you no harm, but whose blameless lives are 
their sure defense before God and man. Depart in peace 
to your homes, and sully not your honor in an act so vile." 
As the Bishop finished speaking, the mob withdrew in peace- 
ful detachments, and thus ended this uprising of bigotry 
in a city which can boast to-day of some of the finest Cath- 
olic institutions in the country. 

On May 3, 1854, Mother Warde opened a convent and 
schools in Newport, placing Sister Mary Gertrude Bradley 


in charge. St. Mary's Convent has long since taken the 
place of the first inadequate building occupied by the sisters. 
In 1857 she made a foundation at Rochester, New York, 
and opened free schools' and a select school. Visitation of 
the sick and other works of mercy were commenced at once. 
Within the year of 1857, sisters went from Rochester to 
take charge of a school in Buffalo, at the request of the 
Reverend Martin O'Connor, who proved himself in after 
years an earnest, devoted friend to the community. 

In 1858 Bishop Bacon of Portland, Maine, appealed to 
the newly made Bishop McFarland, of Hartford, for a few 
Sisters of Mercy to aid the faithful pastor of Manchester, 
New Hampshire, in the education of the children under 
his care. Later, Father McDonald negotiated personally 
with Mother Warde in the interests of his congregation. 
On the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, 1858, 
Mother Warde and her little band of missionaries left 
Providence for Manchester, where, only a few years before, 
in July, 1854, the Know-Nothings had driven the Catholics 
from their homes, dragged the sick from their beds into 
the streets, destroyed the furniture, and then proceeded to 
break the stained-glass windows in St. Anne's Church, which 
was nearly completed at that time. Father McDonald, by 
his peace-making spirit and wise executive ability, kept his 
people from retaliating. Subsequently good order and 
friendliness gradually grew out of the chaos caused by angry 
excitement, as the spirit of prejudice exhausted itself. 
When persecution, resulting from bigotry, was at its height, 
Father McDonald had built his convent. True, an attempt 
was made to demolish it. But this did not daunt the 
courageous priest. He went on with his undertaking, but 
the church and convent were guarded every night lest they 
might be destroyed. On the day of the sisters' arrival in 
New Hampshire, the Catholics commenced their kind offices 
of religious loyalty and generosity toward the sisters. 


Sister Veronica Dillon, a postulant who accompanied 
Sister Mary Rose Davis from Providence, two weeks after 
the sisters were established in Manchester, was the first 
novice to receive the white veil in New Hampshire, and 
Sister Mary Agatha, who came as a white novice from 
Providence with the foundation, was the first to pronounce 
her vows of Holy Profession. Mother Mary Gonzaga, 
who came with Mother Warde to Manchester from Provi- 
dence, was her faithful helper in the great work of zeal 
and charity ; and when Mother Warde was no longer able 
to attend to this cherished duty, Mother Gonzaga took up 
the good work and continued it. 

A convent was founded in Philadelphia in 1861 at the 
request of the Right Reverend Bishop Wood. Sister Mary 
Patricia Waldron was given charge of the community. 
The foundation was made in August, but Mother Warde 
remained with the new foundation until the schools and 
works of mercy were in successful operation. In the sum- 
mer of 1864 the Omaha foundation was sent from Man- 
chester. Mother Warde started to accompany the sisters 
to Chicago on their long and, at that time, dangerous 
journey; but before reaching Chicago she was recalled to 
Manchester by a telegram announcing the dangerous illness 
of her assistant, Mother Philomena. When Mother Warde 
reached her, Mother Philomena was unconscious. She died 
on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption. 

Bishop Bacon wrote from Portland in the spring of 1865, 
asking for a branch house of the Sisters of Mercy for 
Bangor. On receipt of the Bishop's letter Mother Warde 
began preparing for the new mission. Mother Mary Gon- 
zaga O'Brien was appointed superior and sent with six 
sisters to open the schools, Mother Warde accompanying 
them to their destination. Pastor and people were delighted 
to have, at last, a religious community of their own. 


At the urgent appeal of the Right Reverend Eugene 
O'Connell, a colony of sisters was sent to Eureka, Califor- 
nia, in 1871. In May of the same year Mother Warde 
accompanied sisters to found a mission in North Whitefield, 
Maine. This field of labor required from the sisters much 
self-sacrifice, prudence, and confidence in God, as poverty 
and hardships were to be the portion of the noble religious 
destined to work for souls in regions remote from the 
centers of commerce and religion. Accordingly, the most 
trusted and zealous religious were selected for this trying 
but meritorious field of labor. Sister Mary Ignatius Kelly, 
Sister Mary Gertrude McConville, Sister Mary Ursula 
Bradley afterward superior of the Portland convent, 
where she died in April, 1881 Sister Mary Pauline Staple- 
ton, and Sister Mary Dominica O'Hanlan were those most 
closely connected with the schools and missionary labor of 
winning back the renegade and uninstructed Catholics of 
that section of the country. 

Jersey City and Princeton were the next foundations. 
These houses remained branches of the Manchester com- 
munity for many years. In 1872, Mother Warde found 
herself, at last, able to grant the favor the Right Rev- 
erend Bishop de Goesbriand of Burlington had constantly 
sought, of having Sisters of Mercy in his diocese. She 
founded the order in St. Johnsbury, but the community has 
since been transferred to Burlington. This was the fifth 
New England state in which Mother Warde established 
the institute. 

Mention has been made of only the diocesan foundations, 
not of the home growths; but this would be impossible in so 
brief a sketch. Much was accomplished to which reference 
may not even be given ; as when on the Feast of the Exalta- 
tion of the Holy Cross, 1878, Mother Warde sent her 
religious to labor among the Indians of Maine, in com- 


pliance with the wish of Bishop Healy. The sisters' first 
convent there was the wigwam of the chief of the tribe, 
who vacated it for the nuns. 

Mother Warde outlived all who were associated with 
Mother McAuley and herself in the foundation of the insti- 
tute. When her Golden Jubilee drew near, in 1883, she 
was the oldest Sister of Mercy in the world. Preparations 
for this event commenced in the latter part of 1882. Every 
convent of the order joined in a Novena for the American 
foundress, and invitations were extended to numerous 
bishops, priests, and religious to be present at the celebra- 
tion of the fiftieth anniversary of her consecration to God 
by the religious vows. The sisters she had trained in the 
spiritual life were as intensely devoted to her as ever daugh- 
ter was to a real parent, and they found a source of living 
pleasure in making the joyous occasion a festal celebration 
worthy of the venerable jubilarian. 

During the winter of 1883, Mother Warde showed symp- 
toms of failing strength. Her sight failed rapidly during 
the following summer months, and before the end of July 
she was almost totally blind. She accepted her cross gen- 
erously. Her favorite aspirations were, "Let all be lost, 
provided God be not lost!" "O Sweetest Jesus, be to me 
a Jesus !" "0 my Savior, suffering and dying on the Cross 
for me, be a Savior to me when I stand at the Judgment 
Seat of God!" u Holy Virgin, Queen of Heaven, show 
thyself a mother to me at the hour of my death." "O Jesus, 
be my strength, I have no hope but in Thee." 

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, by 
the prudent direction of Bishop Bradley, Father McDon- 
ald, who had been her spiritual director for over twenty- 
five years, administered to her the last Sacraments. Sor- 
rowfully, but with hope in their hearts that she would be 
restored to health, her religious knelt with lighted tapers 
around her bed. She spoke only in broken whispers, 


kissed the crucifix, and seemed to pray with intense fervor 
before sinking into an unconscious state. Father McDon- 
ald gave her the papal benediction, then went to the church 
to say his Mass, which he offered for her. She died in the 
early morning of Wednesday, September 17, 1884. 

In the sisters' burial ground, St. Joseph's Cemetery, is a 
marble shaft erected in the form of a cross, bearing the 
inscription : 

Rev. Mother Mary Francis Xavier Warde, Foundress 
of the Order of Mercy in the United States, Decem- 
ber 21, 1843, and of Mount St. Mary's Convent, 
Manchester, New Hampshire, July 16, 1858. Died 
September 17, 1884, in the 74th year of her age and 
the 53d of her Religious Profession. 

Grant to her, O Lord, Eternal Rest. 

The Divine Master for whom her life was spent in a 
world of cares and sorrows had regard for her soul's deep 
love for the beautiful, in ordaining her body to be laid to 
rest in a spot sublimely impressive in the solemn aspect of 
its loveliness. 

Among Mother Warde's traits of character, piety and 
charity were the most prominent. Another notable trait 
was her ingenuity in putting a bright side on the most try- 
ing circumstances. She always lived, according to her own 
version, in the most delightful city, ruled the best com- 
munity, dealt with the most agreeable persons, enjoyed the 
kindest and most spiritual superiors and pastors. Father 
McDonald, in his usual droll fashion, used to remark, "All 
Reverend Mother's geese are swans." Her faith and con- 
fidence in God were as childlike and implicit during all her 
years as in the days of her novitiate. Even the tone of her 
voice in the recitation of the office and prayers touched all 
hearts around her. Her generosity to the poor, no doubt, 
called down upon her community many substantial blessings. 
The senior sisters tell that, on one occasion, a person in 


distress came to her for alms, when only a few dollars 
remained in the community treasury. She listened to the 
sad story of want, which she knew to he true, and with- 
drew. Returning in a few moments with all that she had, 
she placed it in the hands of the person asking for aid. 
Before the evening of that day, a generous donation of 
money was left at the convent, and the sisters were never 
again in such straitened circumstances. Humility and con- 
trition seemed to be the prevailing sentiments of Mother 
Warde's old age. She dwelt frequently on the inscrutable 
judgments of God, and the awful responsibility of occupy- 
ing the chair of superior in "God's House." 

A paragraph taken from a sermon preached by Bishop 
Bradley, of Manchester, on the occasion of the fiftieth 
anniversary of the foundation of the Order in the United 
States, seems a suitable closing to this sketch of the life 
and labors of the great American foundress of the Sisters 
of Mercy: 

Fifty years ago they numbered seven. To-day they 
number thousands, and are established in fifty-eight 
dioceses in the United States. We were favored in 
having as foundress one who drank in the spirit of the 
Order at its very source, one who governed this com- 
munity for twenty-five years, the revered Mother 
Warde. She now rests amongst the hills of New 
Hampshire, in this land which was very dear to her. 
"Rests," did we say? We think she rests not, but is 
as near to each of her living children as to the dead 
by her side, reminding them of the blessedness of their 
high vocation, and of that reward exceeding great 
which awaits them in Heaven. 



"MOTHER, will it soon be time to pray?" was a favorite 
query of little Eulalie Durocher when she was but three 
years of age. And this question is the index to her char- 
acter. To commune with God, to serve Him to help suffer- 
ing humanity, to follow in the footsteps of the Master 
these made up her existence. Surprisingly great are the 
achievements of those who have learned to love prayer and 
to pray continuously either in word or action. From the 
days of the Apostles to the apostolic workers of to-day the 
series of their achievements run on to infinity. Often 
enough this seems the success of folly, of the folly of the 
Cross. That a young woman frail in health, with no 
extraordinary gifts of fortune, should have organized an 
educational movement that became nation wide seems 
incredible. Yet this is what Eulalie Durocher did; for 
Eulalie Durocher had learned to pray. 

Sieur Olivier Durocher and his wife Genevieve were 
Eulalie's parents. Madame Durocher, brought up by her 
aunt, Madame Mauvide, Seigneuresse of the Island of Or- 
leans, had been educated at the Ursuline Convent, Quebec. 
Her early training eminently fitted her for the responsibili- 
ties of a mother of ten children. Two of these children died 
young, three married and in their own homes became faith- 
ful imitators of their parents' virtues. Three, Flavien, 
Theophile, and Eusebe, sought a life of service to humanity 
in the priesthood. Marie Seraphine, as a Sister of the 
Congregation of Notre Dame, served the cause of educa- 



tion, whereas Eulalie, the youngest, became one of Amer- 
ica's greatest foundresses. 

Eulalie was born in the quaintly beautiful parish of St. 
Antoine on the banks of the Richelieu, October 6, 1811. 
Ill health menaced her life from infancy to womanhood. 
Consequently, her early education was conducted by the 
dearest of all teachers, her mother. Sieur Olivier's father 
took up the good work where the mother left off and con- 
tinued it until the autumn of 1821, when the little girl of 
ten was enrolled in a school at St. Denis, conducted by the 
Sisters of the Congregation. Here Eulalie remained two 
years and during this time she made her first Holy 

Four years of home training followed, for although 
there were two servants in the Durocher household Eulalie's 
mother believed that she should be the one to fit her chil- 
dren for a life of usefulness. Eulalie, at the same time, 
grew spiritually; she meditated, attended Mass frequently, 
received Holy Communion often. Her young soul, thus 
nourished, turned to God. She would belong entirely to 
Him, and she said so when she had attained her sixteenth 
year. Her sister, Marie Seraphine, had entered the novi- 
tiate of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame 
and Eulalie earnestly desired to join her and give her 
young life also to God. With this end in view she went 
to the boarding school conducted by Margaret Bourgeoys' 
daughters in Montreal. Here, the goal of her desires 
seemed nearer. She would study diligently and pass from 
the schoolroom to the novitiate. Ah, that would be hap- 
piness 1 Had she not longed with a great longing for this 
step? But this she was not destined to take, for illness 
spoiled her beautiful dream. Eulalie was never strong. 
Her sojourn at boarding school was accordingly short, yet 
long enough to impress her companions with her high cour- 
age. One of these wrote years afterward: 


In my eyes Eulalie Durocher was wonderful; she 
alone was unaware of her own worth, attributing all 
to God that was found favorable in her, and asserting 
that of herself she was only weakness and misery. 
She possessed charming modesty, was gentle and 
amiable ; attentive always to the voice of her teachers, 
she was still more so to the voice of God, who spoke 
to her heart. 

A rest under her mother's gentle care, a return to normal 
strength, and Eulalie again considered what course she 
would follow. Perhaps, teaching was too arduous for her. 
But, oh, how strongly it appealed to herl Should she 
relinquish her cherished project? Had God other designs 
on her? Was He manifesting His will in her regard 
through illness? Well, then, she could try nursing in the 
General Hospital, at Quebec. If this were her vocation, 
she would devote her life to the work despite the other 
appeal, the great one of education. It might be that God 
wished the sacrifice of her taste in the matter of her voca- 
tion. Yes, she would decide to try nursing. And this she 
did, only to be forced again by illness to return to St. 
Antoine, where her brother, the Reverend Eusebe Durocher, 
said of her: "She was affectionate, prayerful, peaceful, 
cheerful without noise, the delight of our home." 

Sorrow is never very far away from the lovers of the 
Crucified. With her thwarted hopes and broken plans a 
heavier cross came to Eulalie Durocher. Her mother, 
"The Angel in the House," as her children lovingly called 
her, passed away and Eulalie found herself at once the 
housekeeper and the stay of her father. At this time her 
other brother, Reverend Theophile Durocher, was parish 
priest at Belceil. He thought of the old man and the 
young girl in their loneliness and insisted that they should 
make their home with him. They fell in with his views, 
and the change provided Eulalie with a wider field for her 


charity. Like St. Elizabeth, she delighted to wait upon 
God's poor; she was wont to give "until it hurt" to relieve 
some one less fortunate than herself. Whenever a kind 
word or a kind deed could bring cheer or warmth, well- 
being or better living, Eulalie spoke the word and saw that 
the deed was accomplished. Her own busy hands pro- 
vided for the needy; tirelessly she sought to bring comfort 
and help. If lack of material means appealed to her tender 
heart, there was another kind of poverty 'that caused her 
greater sorrow the poverty of educational opportunities 
for every child of the parish. She learned of this greater 
need daily as she went about "doing good." How to rem- 
edy this condition she often asked herself as she prayed 
and planned. Her survey did not stop with the limits of 
the parish of Beloeil. St. Hilaire across the Richelieu also 
had many girls growing to womanhood without education. 
The children of the well-to-do everywhere were educated, 
but what about the numerous families who could not afford 
to send their daughters to boarding schools? Eulalie 
thought that means must be found to have a school in 
every parish. 

These considerations led to larger problems. The Sisters 
of the Congregation of Notre Dame had thirteen schools 
in the Province of Quebec; the Ursulines had one at Que- 
bec, another at Trois Rivieres. Fifteen schools for the girls 
of the Province of Quebec in 1835 did not seem adequate 
to Eulalie. She saw that the harvest was ripe but that 
the workers were correspondingly few. 

The light gradually broke until the way was made quite 
clear. The Right Reverend Ignatius Bourget, the saintly 
Bishop of Montreal, had recently returned from a trip to 
Europe. During his stay abroad he had been mindful of 
the needs of his diocese and from Monsignor Mazenod he 
had secured the services of the Oblates of Mary Immacu- 
late for the establishment of several houses in Canada. 


These missionaries opened a college at Longueuil and were 
entrusted with the parish of St. Hilaire, of which Reverend 
Father Telmon, O.M.L, was appointed rector. This zeal- 
ous missionary was destined to become the light bearer to 
Eulalie and to many other young girls of the district. 

Shortly after his arrival Father Telmon established at 
Beloeil, May 25, 1843, *he fi rst parochial Sodality of the 
Children of Mary in Canada. Of this Eulalie was superior. 
Nearly every pioneer member became a religious, and one, 
Madame Galipeau, founded the Sisters of the Misericorde 
at Montreal. Eulalie had in the Sodality a new outlet 
for her zeal. She knew neither weakness nor human respect, 
and. when a member on one occasion came to the meeting 
in decollete attire, Eulalie supplied the missing material. 
All was done so sweetly, and so gratifying was the existing 
Christian spirit, that no offense was taken where none was 
intended to be given. 

Monsignor Mazenod had promised Bishop Bourget Sis- 
ters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary from his 
foundation house in France for a school in Longueuil. 
Father Telmon wrote to his superior at Marseilles about 
Eulalie and Melodic Dufresne. He told the bishop that 
these two young women wished to become Sisters of the 
Holy Names, and wanted to know when the sisters were 
coming from France. Eulalie and Melodic, Father Telmon 
assured the bishop, were working earnestly for their cher- 
ished project. They were gaining in fortitude and forbear- 
ance. According to the testimony of Melodic the exquisite 
Eulalie was at this time imitating the rigors of the saints. 
Yes, Eulalie the gracious, the amiable, the kind, could be 
very hard on herself, but she made her friend promise not 
to reveal what the latter had discovered. And so Melodic 
did not tell about the hair shirts and girdle, nor about dis- 
ciplines and fastings until Eulalie's beautiful life on earth 
had ended. And what of Melodic herself? Melodic, the 


austere, did not tell what she was doing in her work of 
preparation; that was not Melodie's way, for Melodic 
always considered herself the culprit of the ages, and that 
in consequence atonement was her portion. Dear, strong, 
suffering Melodic! 

Reverend Father Telmon, O.M.L, was transferred 
shortly afterward to Longueuil, and given charge of the 
neighboring missions. He left for France in May to seek 
help for his congregations. Bishop Bourget encouraged 
Father Telmon to bring Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus 
and Mary from Marseilles, and Eulalie and Melodic 
decided to join them on their arrival at Longueuil. But 
the Marseilles community was not prepared to send any of 
its members to distant America ; it was young and had no 
house out of Monsignor Mazenod's diocese. Eulalie 
was disappointed but not discouraged. Since the sisters of 
Marseilles had refused to come, why not found an institute 
without their help ? Although she failed to see clearly how 
such a measure would fit the requirements, she was confident 
of success. Bishop Bourget gave his hearty assent, but 
Father Theophile Durocher, the devoted brother, did not 
approve. "Found an order? Found a congregation? 
Why, what are you thinking about?" and Theophile was 
a gentle, generous brother. But the project seemed unusual, 
extraordinary; it was preposterous. The idea was a "delu- 
sion and a snare." And he told Eulalie so in public and in 
private. Then Father Eusebe called at the Beloeil rectory 
and the matter was discussed easily and familiarly at table, 
as families often do among themselves, in jest and fun. 
But it was no joke to Eulalie, although those who knew her 
best were wont to say, "If you wish to be Eulalie's friend, 
hurt her." 

"Since you wish to be a religious," Eusebe told her, "why 
not join the Grey Sisters or some other established congre- 


Eulalie belonged to the family, so she listened and 
reflected. Before Eusebe left that day, however, she went 
to the confessional and put the question squarely to him. 
"Father Telmon and the Bishop insist that I help to found 
a teaching congregation. What do you advise me to do?" 

"With the Grey Sisters you will not accomplish half the 
good you will at Longueuil," he answered. 

Was he inspired? Had he been given an insight into 
the soul of the sister whom they all loved devotedly? The 
light in all its dazzling brightness had come at last and 
for an instant seemed to bewilder both her brothers. 

This period brought even greater trials to Eulalie. She 
had always been a frequent communicant. Father Odelin 
had led her nearer the Eucharistic King after she came 
to Beloeil; Father Telmon, his successor, had heartened 
her upward struggle through frequent Communion. But 
now Father Telmon had gone to Longueuil and he who 
succeeded him had withdrawn the Great Privilege from 
Eulalie. How desolate was her soul and how sorely in 
need of her great Comforter I But "nothing unusual" had 
been the warning, and Eulalie submitted with a lonely, 
longing heart, as every one must do who has grown to love 
the Presence, and who feel abandoned without It. Surely 
these were trying days for Eulalie, the center of whose life 
was God. The trial stretched out its tortuous length. 
There were months of desolate waiting before circum- 
stances called her to Longueuil, where she went for the 
Religious Profession of her brother, Eusebe. Here she 
met the Bishop, who insisted, on her and Melodie's coming, 
to Longueuil at once, and that there should be no further 
delay. This was October 6, 1843. Even to this day there 
seems to be a soft voice coming from her note to Melodic. 
The note says, "The Bishop and Father Telmon bid us 
come to Longueuil immediately" ; but in our souls we hear 
the song of her heart: "At last I At last! Suffering, trials, 


want, and woe ahead! But what matter? The Master 
calls ! Oh, the Master calls ! Let us up and away to do 
His bidding as best we can! Let us away!" And away 
they went on October 28, 1843, to Longueuil. Eulalie was 
then thirty-two years old. 

As the traveler proceeds through Longueuil village 
toward the great boarding school of the Sisters of the Holy 
Names, he may notice on his left as he draws near the 
school a small stone building with deeply slanting roof. This 
building was the cradle, the Bethlehem, of the Sisters of 
the Holy Names. It was to this house Eulalie Durocher 
and Melodic Defresne came October 28, 1843, to begin 
their novitiate in obedience to the advice of their Bishop and 
of their spiritual director. 

Henriette Cere and her sister Emilie were at the time 
conducting a school in the building. Thirteen boarders and 
about twice as many day pupils constituted the school. Hen- 
riette had long been desirous to become a religious teacher. 
She was fitted for her profession and had expressed the 
determination to join the Sisters of the Holy Names of 
Jesus and Mary when they should arrive from Marseilles. 
Since the sisters could not come, Henriette like her two 
friends, Eulalie and Melodic, felt that their Bishop and 
their spiritual director were leading them aright. Hence 
she became one of the three evidently chosen by Providence 
to found a new congregation on the Western Continent. 

Over this small community Bishop Bourget appointed 
Reverend Father Allard, O.M.I., Novice Master and Mas- 
.ter of Pedagogy. The beginning was humble, yet it is from 
humble beginnings accompanied by trials and sacrifices that 
great ventures grow. And trials and sacrifices were never 
wanting to the foundresses. Nor did Father Allard under- 
value the task entrusted to him. Valiantly and energeti- 
cally he set about it, and if every vestige of self-love did not 
disappear forever, if every virtue that can adorn humanity 


did not flourish in that fervent school of virtue, the Novice 
Master was not to blame. He was zealous in seeking per- 
fection in his work of religious formation. His ideal was 
high, as was the ideal of Eulalie herself. And next to the 
religious formation of his postulants was their formation 
as teachers. Father Allard visited the classes often, taught 
in presence of the teachers, assembled them after class 
hours, and showed them where to prune and where to add. 
Eulalie became the object of his severest criticisms. And 
why not? Was he not fashioning her to be the corner stone 
of the new edifice? What nicety of care he gave her I 
Long years afterward, when bishop and broken in health 
from missionary labors in Africa, he found comfort in the 
thought of the three generous, fervent souls whom he had 
helped Heavenward. 

Months slipped by. Even Father Allard on looking over 
his work found it good and began to speak about the reli- 
gious clothing of his postulants. Eulalie took fright; she 
thought herself better fitted for the life of an auxiliary sis- 
ter than for that of teacher. To be convinced of her un- 
worthiness to figure actively in the new congregation was to 
act. She went to Bishop Bourget for advice. "Do the will 
of God," he told her and she submitted again to his views. 
God's will ! Why, that was the aim and end of her every 
action. Certainly she would try to do God's will, but she 
was so useless, so unworthy; she deserved only contempt 
and reproaches and the Lord was calling her to be closely 
His own! The favor seemed too great for one so unde- 
serving. Consequently, she sought as her right the lowest 
and most menial work of the house. 

Within their humble convent chapel, February fc8, 1844, 
were Bishop Bourget, Father Honorat, O.M.I., their new 
ecclesiastical superior, Father Allard, O.M.I., and Father 
Theophile Durocher, for the religious clothing of Eulalie, 
henceforth to be known as Sister Mary Rose; of Henriette 


Cere, to be known as Sister Mary Magdalen, and of 
Melodic Dufresne, ever after Sister Mary Agnes. This is 
a day held in blessedness by every Sister of the Holy Names 
of Jesus and Mary. A model of the religious habit had 
been sent the sisters from Europe; the rule likewise had 
come from abroad and had been arranged by Bishop Bour- 
get to suit the conditions and needs of the New World. 
That day in the little assembly, not unlike that of the 
Cenacle, were two gifted young women, Salome Martin of 
St. Philip, and Hedwidge Davignon of St. Mathias. In 
time they, too, were clothed with the habit of the Holy 
Names, took the names of Sister Theresa of Jesus and Sis- 
ter Veronica of the Crucifix, and were sent to Montreal for 
their normal studies. Brother Facile did everything in his 
power to make the training of the two novices effective. 
They lodged with the Sisters of Providence, St. Catherine 
Street, and daily made their way to the Christian Brothers' 
school on St. James Street. Day after day they went note- 
book in hand to observe, study, note down, and ponder over 
classroom tactics. Every Saturday on their return to 
Longueuil they organized the material collected, discussed 
it with their three elder sisters, who applied it as far as 
possible to the work in which they were actively engaged. 
Later these notes after being tested were again arranged 
and formed the basis of the pedagogical training of the 
young teachers of the congregation. 

While Sister Theresa of Jesus and Sister Veronica of 
the Crucifix were preparing a pedagogical treatise for the 
new congregation, Sister Mary Rose and her two compan- 
ions were working earnestly at their own perfection. Bishop 
Bourget, speaking of this period of Mother Mary Rose's 
life, says: 

Eulalie was no sooner in the Novitiate at Longueuil 
than Father Allard subjected her to the severest trials. 
Although she was long accustomed to suffering, she 


now found herself in a new sphere, where it was neces- 
sary to undergo all kinds of humiliations that would 
help nature to be transformed into the highest human 
excellence, to submit to those trials which alone can aid 
the soul to acquire complete self-renunciation; and all 
must acquire this who desire to follow the Divine Mas- 
ter : "If anyone will come after Me, let him take up 
his cross 1" 

Eulalie understood that there is no other way to Heaven 
except the way of crucifixion. Listen to her as she says: 
"My virtue while in the world seems to me now only an 
illusion"; and again, "While I was at home I aspired to 
extraordinary graces, and now I see this was an unpardon- 
able illusion on my part.'* 

Aridity added to her tortures. Yet throughout all her 
bodily and mental suffering she bore herself patiently, be- 
seeching God to supply the defects of her virtues out of 
the excess of His bounty. "It is so little compared to what 
I deserve," she was wont to say, and daily grew more 
lovely, while the tender-hearted Sister Veronica of the Cru- 
cifix wept as she witnessed such suffering and such humility. 
Well might Father Allard exclaim: "Oh, Lord Jesus, what 
wonders Thou workest in souls that belong to Thee!" 
Through the priest's care the novices moved generously for- 
ward, sacrificing all for God. The day of complete spolia- 
tion drew near. Sister Mary Rose speaks of it in a letter 
to her sister, Marie Seraphine, now Mother St. Cecile. 


I was about to invite you to my Profession when I 
heard of your illness. You must know that it would 
be a very great joy for me to see you present, to have 
you pray near me when I take the step which you have 
already taken to your own great happiness. But God 
has willed otherwise. So while I am at the foot of the 
altar consecrating my poor life to His love, you will 


be on a bed of pain, offering Him your sufferings. 
Share your merit with me to supply the deficiency of 
mine; and renew your sacrifice to supplement the small- 
ness and meanness of mine. I rely on your prayers 
and on those of your Reverend Mother and kind 

On December 8, 1844, the first religious profession of 
the Sisters of the Holy Names took place when the three 
foundresses vowed their lives to God. Before the Mass 
Bishop Bourget read a mandate granting the young con- 
gregation official recognition; after Mass he organized the 
first government of the Sisters of the Holy Names by ap- 
pointing Sister Mary Rose, Superior and Novice Mistress ; 
Sister Mary Magdalen, Assistant and Directress of the 
Boarding School, and Sister Mary Agnes, Directress of the 
Art Department. The burden of the bishop's sermons to 
the sisters was, "Little children, love one another," invari- 
ably adding, "Let this be the soul of your congregation." 

With government commenced, canonical recognition 
given, and their novitiate completed the foundresses kept 
on diligently at their double line of endeavor personal 
perfection and perfection in teaching. In both these im- 
portant enterprises the bishop helped them greatly. Two 
weeks after the profession of the foundresses he came again 
and bade the sisters to follow St. Ignatius's method of 
mental prayer; he likewise made two hours of daily study 
an imperative duty for every teaching sister. He decided, 
moreover, that only qualified applicants should be accepted 
for choir sisters. The distinctive features of the congrega- 
tion were becoming marked, and each recommendation 
given by the bishop was scrupulously carried out. 

.The reputation of the school grew steadily. The num- 
ber of pupils increased so rapidly that the foundresses were 
obliged to secure a larger building as early as August 4, 
1844. The parish of Longueuil, benefiting most by the 


foundation, eagerly offered the sisters a more spacious 
domicile, and this was gratefully accepted. This transac- 
tion led to important issues, trying situations; but so ac- 
customed are great-souled Christians to look for the 
shadow of the Cross athwart their young enterprises, that 
if it is absent they question if the work is from God. 
Mother Mary Rose's Calvaries and Gethsemanies were so 
numerous along her life route that she was left no occasion 
to question. Poverty, even deprivation of what is consid- 
ered the necessaries of life, marked the first days in the 
new abode. For weeks potatoes were the only food of the 
sisters; their dining room was the end of a corridor and 
that without chairs. Their sleeping apartments were the 
schoolrooms and halls which necessitated an early shifting 
of the scenes before the pupils began anew their tasks of 
the day. These, however, were minor trials compared to 
those the good Lord had in His keeping for the new con- 
gregation, and which were even now knocking at its door. 
The trouble came unexpectedly and from a surprising 
source, the parish of Longueuil. The same trustees who 
had so graciously offered a building to the sisters for their 
school, imposed conditions, the acceptance of which would 
do nothing less than mortgage the future. Mother Mary 
Rose laid the demands before the sisters and they unani- 
mously rejected them. Bishop 1 Bourget told the foundress 
to take heart, that should the trustees persist in their de- 
mands, he himself would find a convent site near his episco- 
pal residence; and Father Brassard, to keep the sisters in 
Longueuil, made a generous offer. Adjoining the boarding 
school Mother Mary Rose had opened a day school on a 
lot belonging to Father Brassard. This he now offered to 
her with the promise of erecting the necessary build- 
ings. The conditions attached to Father Brassard's offer 
were acceptable; the chief of these was that the sisters 
should agree to liquidate any debt that might remain 


against the property on the death of the pastor. The deed 
of transfer was made and Mother Mary Rose began plan- 
ning the needed improvements, a step which necessitated 
mortgaging the property. 

With all these pressing affairs at Longueuil, Mother 
Mary Rose did not hesitate to reach out to greater things. 
The Beloeil parishioners had with regret seen Eulalie Duro- 
cher leave her brother's house. How often during her 
stay among them had they slipped into the church to watch 
her and Melodic pray! "How well they pray!" had be- 
come a general remark. On Eulalie's profession they re- 
solved to have a school in their parish conducted by her 
sisters and accordingly they began a convent which was 
completed September 26, 1846. Mother Mary Rose sent 
them, on November 3, Sister Theresa of Jesus, Sister Mary 
Ursula, and Sister Mary Anne. Her mother heart 
prompted her to write to her brother regarding the teachers 
of this first local house, "They are only novices and need 
encouragement. You will be their father and friend." He 
was both, for no more devoted and generous friend did the 
young congregation have than Reverend Theophile 

The Longueuil boarding school grew and postulants 
came in goodly numbers to the novitiate. To accommodate 
these new contingents Mother Mary Rose purchased an- 
other piece of land, although this, together with the recent 
improvements, sorely taxed the revenues of the house. But 
the foundress's trust in Providence carried her safely 
through these and keener struggles ahead. 

An ecclesiastic all too notorious in his day had been 
requested to leave the Diocese of Quebec. Bishop Bourget 
in his Christlike charity offered the man another chance, 
and appointed him assistant to Reverend Father Brassard. 
The stranger was a trouble brewer and almost immediately 
began to criticize everything in the Longueuil parish. Soon 


he persuaded the pastor to seek control of the school. He 
repeated his views and with time they began to have effect 
on Father Brassard. Mother Mary Rose saw the subtle 
change in Father Brassard, she understood perfectly the 
cause, and grew more prayerful in consequence; but the 
depths of her serene soul were undisturbed. To her it was 
another instance in which her unworthiness was bringing 
pain and punishment on the congregation. 

With these personal trials a great public calamity was 
at this time threatening the lives of the people. Ireland, 
made a torture house for her own people by alien rule, saw 
many of her bravest sons and best daughters seek freedom 
in strange lands. They paid their passage in English ships 
which offered accommodations that were an outrage to 
humanity. No wonder that typhus broke out aboard these 
vessels ; no wonder that it raged among the immigrants at 
Quebec, that it spread to Montreal and Ottawa. The Sul- 
picians, Jesuits, and the diocesan clergy proved, as ever, 
equally heroic. The bishop himself, good father that he 
was, went among the stricken. He, his coadjutor, Mon- 
signor Prince, the Oblate Fathers, and many other minis- 
tering angels fell victims to their zeal. Prayer became 
more fervent in the Longueuil convent, mortifications more 
frequent. The sick recovered; but now there were many 
children deprived of their parents. The foundress's char- 
ity, as always, rose to the occasion and she decided to edu- 
cate some of the children orphaned by the malady. Op- 
pressed with burdensome debt, she could still find means to 
help where help was needed. 

When the siege of death passed a real siege of trouble 
began for her, all the more painful because it was caused 
by a friend of the congregation. Public examinations 
proved again that the school was progressing, that it was 
conducted on the right lines by able teachers. But one sat 
at the pastor's table who never could respect truth on ac- 


count of some psychological mistake in his nature. His 
words were producing results at last; he had won the pas- 
tor. The congregation had borrowed money to build and 
heavy payments were the order of the day. In the heart 
of these besetting difficulties Father Brassard asked for the 
land he had deeded to the congregation. Mother Mary 
Rose did not hesitate; she bought the land from him at his 
price. He had an adjoining lot, and if the sisters would 
not buy it he would find another purchaser. Mother Mary 
Rose purchased this lot also at the owner's figure. Depri- 
vations were increased to meet these new demands. Twelve 
days later another note came from the pastor: "I do not 
consider [it read] that I am unreasonable in asking you to 
return my piano which you have had for the last three 
years.' 1 This elicited the following reply: "We are very 
grateful for the use of your piano, nor have we forgotten 
that when we bought a new piano we offered it to you. 
My word then pledged is still pledged. You may have 
whichever piano you wish, and you can have it to-day. I 
beg you to accept my gratitude for all your kindness." 

"I was very much touched," the pastor answered, "by 
the generous offer of your beautiful new piano. I let you 
have the use of mine without remuneration, and I am 
pleased to receive it as it is now. By taking back to-day 
more than I let you have, I would lose the merit of a service 

These relations with the pastor furnish an interesting 
psychological problem, and also show that the bishop's ad- 
vice had borne fruit. He had written Mother Mary Rose : 

I think, Reverend Mother, that you should not be 
alarmed at any trials or difficulties Providence may 
send you; they will teach you to live for God alone 
and for His Blessed Mother. Be true daughters of 
Jesus and Mary, and take care not to prove unworthy 
of these Names to which you are consecrated. May 


Jesus and Mary bless all your Sisters and grant you 
prudence ! Truly, we need it when we have the direc- 
tion of others. You will please ask it for me. I need 
it more than you. 

When the attempt to hurt the community financially had 
failed, clever insinuations were next leveled against it in the 
ignorant manner of all the "ex's." The residents of 
Longueuil sprang to the breach through the Minerve of 
Montreal, to silence the maligner, if possible. The attacks 
were perverse and malignant, yet they did not bewilder 
Mother Mary Rose. She opened a school at St. Lin, an- 
other at St. Timothy, and when Father Brassard's name 
day came around she did not forget the occasion, judging 
from his communication: 

The expressions of your gratitude pleased me [he 
wrote] and I gladly accept your gift. Knowing that 
it was made at the Convent gives it exceptional value 
in my estimation. Accept my thanks. I recommend 
myself to your prayers, and promise to ask God, at 
every Holy Mass I shall offer, to bless your Institu- 
tion. To-morrow at seven the Holy Sacrifice shall be 
celebrated in your intention. 

Father Brassard was too upright a man to be long 
swayed by an individual who might for a time conceal him- 
self behind a screen of seeming zeal, but who ultimately 
became the worst apostate Canada has yet known. He was 
simply an instrument used by Providence to purify the 
foundress more and more, and to strengthen the founda- 
tions of an edifice she was raising. 

This period was remarkable also for the many recruits 
of merit and ability who joined the ranks of the sisterhood. 
Among these candidates for sainthood were Hermine de 
Rouville, daughter of Seigneur de Rouville, later Mother 
Mary Scholastica, long superior of the new boarding school 
at Hochelaga; Joanna Roche, the gifted Mother Mary 


Elizabeth, an able teacher and a capable leader; Catherine 
and Mary O'Neill the former, Sister Francis of Assisium, 
noted for her heroism during the smallpox plague in Jack- 
sonville, Oregon; and the latter, Mother Mary Margaret, 
one of the most noted educators Oregon has ever had; 
Josephine Legasse, Mother Marie Jean Baptiste, the up- 
builder of Sacred Heart Convent, Oakland, California, and 
long the life of the houses of the Holy Names in the Golden 
State ; Virginie Duhamel, Mother Mary Stanislaus destined 
to be General of the Congregation, gentle and holy; and 
Mary Hagan, Sister Mary Patrick, one of the strong teach- 
ers of these early years. There are many other names that 
could be here inscribed, for probably no other community 
within so short a given time has ever enrolled so many 
really superior women. To great natural ability they added 
the fervor of the first Christians and retained it, too, to 
steep each successive band of recruits with that beautifully 
earnest spirit they had imbibed from the foundress. Their 
conversations dealt with her to the edification of the younger 
members. When they had built up schools on the Gulf and 
the Pacific slope, they kept alive the torch of education she 
had set in their hands, enlightening the young in the things 
of time and of eternity. Surely, Mother Mary Rose's 
labors were blessed by God through the sweetness with 
which she accepted trials and the eagerness with which she 
sought them, and the valor with which she fought weak- 
nesses and imperfections either in herself, the pupils, or in 
the members of her religious family. 

Mother Mary Rose early learned to follow in the foot- 
steps of the Savior. Her parents, like the parents of the 
Little Flower, trained her not to flee from annoyances, but 
to meet them serenely and live them through. This is a 
fitting childhood for life here and especially for the life to 
come. In the Beloeil rectory Melodie Dufresne alarmed 
Eulalie's humility by discovering the latter's instruments of 


penance, which told their own persuasive story of love for 
the Crucified. At Longueuil Mother Mary Rose seemed to 
look upon herself as a sinner deserving of every chastise- 
ment. Even when her gentle demeanor as portress during 
her noviceship was drawing souls to the congregation, 
Eulalie considered herself fit only for the most menial work 
of the house. Nor did her humility find expression solely 
in words. Often she surprised the sisters by assuming the 
lowest duties in the infirmary, and meeting all objections 
with her gentle pleading to be allowed to serve the suffering. 
Again she would join Sister Mary Felicienne in scrubbing 
the corridors, putting herself at the task with all her feeble 
strength. In a word she always did whatever her hand 
found for her to do and this she did as perfectly as possible. 

When not busy with the actual demands of the convent 
she was cheering the pupils or contributing to the happiness 
of the sisters. Her own spirit of mortification did not make 
her severe toward others. When an occasion demanded 
she could be gently firm but never weakly indulgent. Among 
the pupils of that period who have left notes on Mother 
Mary Rose are Mary O'Neill, Mother Mary Margaret; 
Hermine de Rouville, Mother Mary Scholastica; Joanna 
Roche, Mother Mary Elizabeth; Thai's Lacoste, Mother 
Mary Thai's. Their "reminiscences" of the devoted found- 
ress as she came and went among them are all aglow with 
her mother love and unselfishness. 

Mary O'Neill says that Mother Mary Rose found her 
one morning bathed in tears. 

"What is the trouble, little girl? 1 ' she tenderly inquired. 

"There is no one to do my hair, Mother!" Mary replied. 

"I'll find some one," Mother Mary Rose said, as she 
left the scene to return quickly with comb and brush. The 
superior herself curled Mary's black locks and made a 
small girl very happy by her kind deed. Later through 
Mother Mary Rose's intercession Mary came to the noviti- 


ate from the boarding school at the early age of fourteen. 
But Mary left her canary behind, much to her sorrow. 
Mother Mary Rose, knowing Mary's fondness for her pet, 
gave her charge of the bird to the postulant's great joy. 
Neither could Mary forget in after years the many other 
kindnesses which the foundress lavished upon her. There 
was the occasion of Mary's illness when Mother Mary 
Rose herself went to the kitchen and made her the appetiz- 
ing apple pie, and finding that Mary liked the pie, told the 
cook to prepare one occasionally for the young postulant. 
Mary, who had been motherless from her infancy, learned 
to love Mother Mary Rose with a daughter's love, and 
the superior, knowing the ardent, generous soul entrusted 
to her, fashioned it with a firm hand to render magnificent 
service. Once when Mother Mary Rose noticed that Mary 
was inclined to imitate the rigorous fasts of the saints, she 
called the postulant and inquired who gave her permission 
to fast. 

u No one," Mary answered, 

"Then I'll serve you at supper," Mother Mary Rose 
said, and Mary never had a more appealing or generous 
portion served her at table than that served her that 

The personal training for life was the cause of the bril- 
liant success of these young educators in a later day, as it 
likewise was the key to the happiness of many a home. 
Mother Mary Rose was accustomed to appear among the 
pupils at unexpected times with certain delicacies. Some- 
times, too, she would return with empty plate in hand and 
ask, "Who thought of the poor?" Only one little girl on 
the first of these occasions chanced to have candy to put 
on the plate. These lessons, however, soon bore results. 
The majority of the pupils began to think, after a treat, 
that an empty plate might return for contributions for the 
poor. "Always remember God's poor!" Mother Mary 


Rose insisted, for these were not the days of organized 

Her perfect understanding of the need of occasional re- 
laxation contributed greatly to the strength of the ties which 
bound the sisters and pupils to her. On several occasions 
Hermine de Rouville had expressed her views about her 
pony. Might it not forget her? she asked, and Hermine 
was not talkative. Mother Mary Rose listened to the 
query, and followed it up by suggesting to Madame de 
Rouville that the groom might bring the pony to the con- 
vent. Great was Hermine's joy when the animal whinnied 
at sight of her. She mounted and had a very satisfying 
canter around the convent grounds. 

In these "Ages of Faith," as Joanna Roche named them, 
Mother Mary Rose might say to the irrepressible Hortense 
Dufresne, Mother Mary Agnes's sister, "Amuse yourself, 
laugh, play pranks"; but none could be firmer than the 

If the bell called us to a Community exercise, to 
class, or other duty [says one of these novices] we went 
immediately. Were we writing, we left a letter unfin- 
ished; were we sewing, the needle stopped in the stitch 
just begun. I like to remember how Mother taught us 
to observe the rule. She was not severe, but firm and 
kind ; yet in her kindness there was no weakness. She 
was persistent in recommending cheerfulness under 
privations. "These mean death to self-love," she 
would say, "common life is its grave. Do not be sur- 
prised at unkindness, lack of delicacy, or lack of 
thought; they help you to die to self, and by this 
death you shall reach ideal life here the life of 
grace/' "Jesus and Mary suffered, they consented to 
pay the tribute of pain, we their followers must do 
likewise." "Go to the Chapel, Sister," was one of her 
oft-repeated recommendations, "and ask our Blessed 
Mother to help you; she suffered and she understands." 


Any infraction of the rule might be stayed by the 
words, u Oh, don't do that, it would grieve Mother." 

While the charm of her life was drawing souls nearer 
God, and the peace of her soul seemed great, the storms 
were still buffeting the bark she was guiding. In 1848 she 
writes to Reverend Father Telmon, O.M.I., Pittsburg, 
Pennsylvania, who had asked her for altar linens and vest- 
ments, that the articles had been sent and adds : 

There is no change in our relations with the pastor. 
The trials which God has been pleased to send us are 
not yet over. They say many people are surprised to 
see that the Congregation has weathered the storm, 
and has been strengthened by its bufferings. It was no 
ordinary tempest, for word and deed were actively 
combined against the existence of the Congregation. 
If I had become a religious to live in peaceful retire- 
ment, would my deception not have been complete! 
You, know, Reverend Father, that this was not my in- 

My sole regret is, that I do not give my Sisters the 
example they have a right to expect. The thought 
grieves and pains me. Your letter did me good, for 
nothing is so helpful to us when we suffer as the sym- 
pathy of those in whom we have confidence. Our 
Community will prosper, aided by Heaven, for we have 
the fervent prayers of many zealous friends. 

Gradually the debt was paid off through the income of 
the school and the dowries of the sisters. Mother Mary 
Rose had considered the "lilies of the field," and her trust 
in the Master was vindicated. Gradually, too, the pastor 
returned to his former friendly attitude toward the congre- 
gation, but not before the foundress had passed through the 
door that "never outward swings." Her health, always 
delicate, was weakened perceptibly now. She still went 
about her duties, her cough aggravated, her feebleness more 


apparent, the besetting difficulties many, yet gradually van- 
ishing. Realizing that the end was not distant, she confided 
her religious family to Mary's blessed keeping. 

Immaculate Virgin Mary [she wrote] of stainless 
birth, Holy Mother of God Queen of Heaven and 
Earth, and in particular of this Community which is 
consecrated to you, and Mistress especially of this poor 
slave, Sister Mary Rose, permit me to express my 
thoughts to you on this day of retreat, April 29, 1849, 
whereon I am preparing to celebrate the beautiful 
month of May, your month, dear Mother, and which 
I would employ to honor, bless, and love you. I wish 
to imitate you more in deed, by practising your vir- 
tues, rather than by speaking of them. I desire this 
Community, of which your Divine Son willed that I, 
although most unworthy, should be the Superior, to 
love, bless, and serve you. Allow me to open my heart 
to you today. Humbly prostrate at your feet, I come, 
O tender Queen and compassionate Mistress, to beg 
light to know more clearly my inability, pride, incon- 
stancy, negligence, and sloth, and that self-love over 
which I now weep, and which causes me to be so selfish 
in your service and that of your Divine Son. 

At the beginning of May Mother Mary Rose set the 
example of practicing some particular mortification or de- 
votion each day to acquire the virtue most pressingly 
needed. Toward the end of the month she wrote to the 
Blessed Virgin: 

Let me beg you, dear Mother, to obtain for me 
light to know and understand my Sisters, and what is 
best for the spiritual advancement of each one. Give- 
me the spirit you desire them to have; give all your 
children whom you cherish the knowledge of what real 
love is; grant this in particular to your unworthy 
daughter and servant, who longs for nothing so much 
as to depart . . . 


She did not finish the sentence. God's will was the food of 
her soul, and as long as there were difficulties she would 
not ask to escape. 

The picture Mother Mary Rose leaves of herself is 
quite different from that given by Mother Veronica of the 
Crucifix, who says: 

The Foundress had become so perfectly mistress of 
herself, that under the most trying provocation she 
did not show the least impatience even by a gesture or 
change of countenance; nor did multiplicity of duties 
affect her serenity. She never spoke in her own praise, 
or repeated any incident that might redound to her 
credit; she never referred to what she quitted when 
she entered the Convent. Exact observance was sacred 
to her, nor would she tolerate an infraction of it in 
another. Yet when she reminded the delinquent of 
her fault against the Rule, she did it with affection 
and kindness. If Mother, however, thought that there 
was any warmth in her reproach, even when it was 
imperceptible to the offender, she threw herself on her 
knees, saying: "Sister, pardon me for the love of 
Jesus I" The trials through which the Community 
passed came near wrecking its existence. "They hap- 
pen for our good!" Mother would say, as she bent 
to each additional burden uncomplainingly. Nor did 
interior sufferings diminish her courage nor weaken 
her confidence. God allowed every spiritual consola- 
tion to be withdrawn from her to such a degree that 
she felt abandoned by the Almighty. This, indeed, 
was anguish but it was not all. While her soul was 
enveloped in densest darkness that completely hid the 
Heavenly Father's smile, she had other keen tortures. 
When an able hand is at the helm, guiding the bark 
through desolate night-stretches, trust in the pilot is 
a help and a joy; but if the comfort of confidence is 
removed, and ever-increasing repugnance for the voice 
of the helmsman is experienced, then truly, is the poor 


soul really tried. Yet this is what was asked of the 
foundress for her sanctification and our instruction. 
These interior storms finally ended like the furious 
assaults on the Community one can scarcely tell how. 
The tempest was; it is no more. During the fiercest 
interior attacks her outward calm was undisturbed. 

Bishop Bourget confirms this testimony of Mother Vero- 
nica of the Crucifix. "She believed she was abandoned by 
God!" he repeats, and what suffering this statement im- 
plies ! Her physical weakness soon confined her to her cell, 
where she received the First Communicants, June 7, 1849. 
Among them was Thai's Lacoste, Mother Thai's of St. 
Joseph, to whom the foundress said: "You will be one of 
us." How often when Novice Mistress did Mother Thai's 
repeat the foundress's words with glowing face. 

She, who had hungered for suffering, was given it in full 
measure; she, who sought to crush nature by penance and 
prayer, seemed to have attained her object; she who went 
often to the cook and said, "Command me, you are mistress 
here," was ready through the practice of obedience to sub- 
mit lovingly to God's will in the great act of life, the final 
surrender. But before that hour grew near she was to see 
the withdrawal of the Oblates, who had been the instru- 
ments used by Providence in the foundation work of the 
Sisters of the Holy Names. She was even to see the de- 
parture of Father Allard, who for six years had devoted 
himself to the religious formation of the blessed foundress. 
She was to experience the deprivation of Holy Communion 
and to make her spoliation complete, she resigned, with the 
bishop's permission, her office of superior. Now she lay 
surrounded by her desolate daughters, waiting for the end, 
waiting and suffering, thus causing them the first great sor- 
row of their religious life. They had stormed Heaven to 
keep her, but God judged her ready for her reward. . She ' 
left her children at 12:15 on 'the morning of October 6, 


1849. Her stay with them had been brief but effective, 
for her spirit still sways their hearts and guides their ac- 
tions. They continue to ask as they did back in the "Ages 
of Faith," "Would Mother Mary Rose have it so?" And 
now that the process of her beatification has begun, the 
prayers of many ascend that the seal of God's Church may 
be put upon this life from which such blessings flowed and 
still flow among the two thousand living members of her 
community who have enrolled under the banner of the Holy 
Names. Mother Mary Rose left early, but that her spirit 
will tarry long and late with her daughters, all the signs of 
to-day tend to indicate. 

To do every good her hand found to do, was a trait of 
this blessed foundress. This characteristic she left to her 
congregation, for although the end of the sisterhood is : "To 
educate young ladies according to their station in life," yet 
they have departed from their life work several times at 
the call of duty. In 1868 they closed their school in Jack- 
sonville, Oregon, when the black smallpox was making a 
charnel house of the city. "Husbands abandoned their 
wives, parents their children," one of the sisters wrote, yet 
Sister Francis of Assisium and Sister Mary Edward went 
out to nurse the victims, although they knew they could not 
return to their convent until the plague had subsided. Once, 
too, in Key West, when yellow fever scourged the island, 
the sisters dismissed their pupils and went bravely forth to 
scenes of menace among the plague-stricken. During the 
Spanish-American War hungry soldiers reached Tampa, 
Florida, with their provision train well in the rear. The 
sisters and pupils of the Convent of the Holy Names under- 
took to brew tea, make coffee, and feed the famished men. 
The Convent of Mary Immaculate, Key West, was offered 
to the Uiilted States authorities for hospital purposes dur- 
ing the samfc Tfar. The offer was accepted and the sisters 
were trained to care for the wounded as well as they could 


be trained in the short time allowed. Had Mother Mary 
Rose been alive she would have desired to be actively em- 
ployed wherever human need was calling for help. Her 
spirit it is that prompted these heroic deeds, just as it is her 
spirit that inspires the teachers with kindness and love to- 
ward every child with whom they come in contact; and 
which impels the sisters to prepare themselves well for their 
great work of education. For the Sisters of the Holy 
Names realize that it is their chief duty to form true men 
and women for the nation. Mother Mary Rose taught 
them that with true women and good men any nation's 
future is guaranteed. 



CORNELIA PEACOCK was born on January 15, 1809, of a 
wealthy and distinguished Protestant family in Philadelphia. 
Her father, Ralph Peacock, came of a Yorkshire family, 
and her mother was of Spanish extraction. Cornelia was 
the youngest of six children, all of whom were gifted with 
talents and beauty. She grew up a lively, high-spirited, 
strong-willed girl, with gifts of intellect and character which 
early marked her out for leadership. She was educated 
at home and made rapid progress in all her studies. Her 
father and mother died before she was fifteen years of age 
and the elder sons and daughters being now settled in life, 
Cornelia was adopted by her half-sister, Mrs. Montgomery, 
who lived in the same town. Of her religious belief and 
practice during these years unfortunately there are no de- 
tails. Probably a soul, whose response to the grace of faith 
when it came was so immediate, had turned to God from 
childhood, and had reached that knowledge of Him which 
is given to the pure of heart. 

At the age of twenty-three she married a young Episco- 
palian clergyman, Pierce Connelly. They went to live at 
Natchez, Mississippi, where a chance occasion brought them 
into contact with nuns and roused their interest in Catholi- 
cism. Four years after their marriage both were received 
into the Catholic Church. As Mr. Connelly was then left 
without occupation, they took advantage of his temporary 
leisure to visit Rome and afterward spent two years travel- 
ing in Europe. News of financial failure then brought them 
back to America and necessitated a search for the means of 




livelihood. Mr. Connelly became professor of English in 
the Jesuit College of St. Charles at Grand Coteau and his 
wife began teaching music to the pupils of the Sacred Heart 
Convent in the same place. 

Such were the outward circumstances of Cornelia's life 
for its first thirty years. They differed in nothing from 
those of many another Christian wife and mother. Crosses 
had thrown their shadow over her path from time to time, 
but joy had greatly predominated. The recent loss of 
riches means little to a husband and wife of simple tastes, 
young, talented, and devotedly attached to each other. They 
still had interesting occupations, beautiful children, and 
opportunities for useful work. Moreover, after their long 
spell of travel both were glad to settle down again to a 
quiet home life, however humble. 

They lived with their three children in a pretty cottage 
to which they gave the name of Gracemere. The joy of 
their religion increased their natural happiness, and their 
home became a center of peace and love, so that one of the 
Jesuit Fathers wrote of them, "They edified us and the 
whole parish by the spectacle of their tender piety." Both 
husband and wife had an extraordinary gift of personal 
charm. In him it showed in the interest and natural elo- 
quence of his conversation ; in her it was rather a fresh, ir- 
repressible gayety, and a sympathy which took so profound 
a part in the joys and sorrows of every one around her that 
no room was left for self in any form. 

Cornelia's school duties were not so arduous as to inter- 
fere with the care of her children to whom she was com- 
pletely devoted. The eldest boy, Mercer, was now about 
six years old, then came Adeline, aged three, and then John, 
or "Pretty Boy" as they called him, a lovely baby with fair 
curls and laughing dark eyes like her own, the very "delight 
of her heart." 

All then was joy and peace in the little home, as in the 


heart of the young mother who ruled it so happily. But 
Cornelia aspired to sanctity, and in this world the way of 
sanctity is always the Way of the Cross. As she was des- 
tined to do a great work for God and to attain to high vir- 
tue in its fulfillment her trial came with a searching and 
terrible intensity. It was preceded by a generous desire to 
share in the sufferings of Our Lord. She began to long for 
suffering and even to pray for it, urged on, as she afterward 
said, by an interior force of love almost in spite of herself. 
Later to those of her religious children who showed the 
same desire, being zealous like herself for the better gifts, 
she used to say, "When the wish for suffering comes upon 
you strongly without previous effort on your part, it is from 
God. Do not resist it." 

It has been said that in most cases the crisis of a life comes 
suddenly. To Cornelia Connelly it came on the morning 
of January 30, 1840, while she was out walking with her 
children. She described it afterward. It must have been 
one of those days when all the earth and air seem instinct 
with joyous life. At a little distance stood their cottage 
nestling among the green shadowy trees, while the sunshine 
hung golden around it. Close at hand her children were 
running and shouting in the bright keen air. A sense of in- 
tense happiness and love of God flooded her soul. Sud- 
denly, impelled by she knew not what, she raised her eyes 
to heaven and exclaimed: "O my God, if all this happiness 
be not for Thy glory and the good of my soul, take it from 
me. I make the sacrifice." 

She herself tells of that eager cry of her heart, but who 
shall tell what mysteries of grace were wrought in her at 
that moment ? Everything tends to show that it was then 
that she first felt the mystical embrace of God, and in that 
supreme contact understood that He would call her to stand 
lonely beside the Desolate Mother very near to the Cross. 

Twenty-four hours later her younger son was laid upon 


her lap in the agony of death. He had run out alone into 
the garden to play with a large Newfoundland dog, and 
before any one had noticed him he had been knocked over 
into a tank of boiling maple juice. For forty-three hours 
he lingered in unspeakable torture in his mother's arms, 
until, as she wrote, "at early dawn on the Feast of the 
Purification he was taken into the Temple of the Lord." 

One may not try to look into the deep places of the 
mother's soul during those long hours, or to venture where 
none but the Pierced Feet might safely tread; but one may 
know that it was then that there grew up in her heart the 
intense devotion to the Mother of Sorrows which marked 
her later life. 

The shock of this loss made her cling even more closely 
to God, praying for greater faith, for yet more perfect 
resignation to His will. She must have felt a presentiment 
that still more would be taken from her, for through all her 
spiritual notes of this time there runs like an inspiration the 
thought of future sorrow and the earnest confiding of her- 
self to God. Yet no suspicion can well have crossed her 
mind of what form that sorrow was to take. A note writ- 
ten by her at this time makes this more evident. "When 
I first became aware," she writes, "that the religious state 
was higher than the secular, I secretly rejoiced that my 
state in life was fixed and such a sacrifice would never be 
asked of me, for had I been a girl and examining my voca- 
tion I should always have felt that I must have given all 
my very best to God," 

She wrote these words, and then the incredible blow fell 
that was to shape her life's course anew, and to single her 
out alone among millions to be wife and mother and 

On the Feast of St. Edward, October 13, 1840, while 
walking home from Mass with Cornelia, Pierce Connelly 
told her of his urerent desire for a new ministrv more fflori- 


ous than the one to which, in error, he had consecrated his 
youth. He longed to be a priest, and he asked her to make 
it possible by herself entering a convent. 

Later, recalling that conversation, she declared that she 
must then have died of grief had it not been for the special 
assistance of God's grace. Yet, in spite of the confusion 
into which her mind was thrown, she had answered, taking 
refuge in words grow familiar by constant use, that if 
this should indeed prove to be God's will she would not 
oppose it. 

As the days passed by, every detail of her home life must 
have impressed upon her with relentless accuracy all that 
the sacrifice would entail. The caresses of her children, 
and even the sight of the little empty cot which was awaiting 
the arrival of another child, must have been pain almost 
past bearing. Her whole being recoiled from the idea of 
separation. But there was another side. There were those 
sacred moments in which she had realized God's love, what 
He had done for her, the shortness of this life, the length of 
eternity. There was her own prayer for suffering, her offer- 
ing of herself and all she had as a holocaust to God. If 
He really wished her husband to be a priest to offer the 
Infinite Sacrifice could she stand in the way? For the 
children, too, would it not be a privilege unspeakable? 

Gradually her soul grew calmer, and she prayed as One 
prayed long ago "with a strong cry and tears," and in the 
strength of His prayer she, too, was able to repeat "Thy 
Will be done." There is no doubt that such a sacrifice can 
be, and occasionally has been, inspired by God, for it has 
the express commendation of Our Lord Himself. "Every- 
one that hath left house or brethren or sisters or father or 
mother or wife or children or lands for My name's sake 
shall receive an hundredfold and shall possess life everlast- 
(Matt. xix. 29). It requires, of course, a special and 
marked vocation, and it has been allowed by the 


Church only in rare cases and after most careful investiga- 
tion. If there are children provision must be made for 
them, and before the husband receives Holy Orders the 
wife must enter a religious congregation, or at least make 
publicly a vow of perpetual chastity. 

For the moment Pierce Connelly's directors advised only 
calm consideration and much prayer that God would make 
known His will in this matter. No immediate outward 
change in their life took place. The daily routine con- 
tinued, and Mrs. Connelly appeared, as always, calm and 
cheerful, so that no one guessed the struggle that was going 
on within. Yet in spite of her generosity there were times 
when her strength almost failed her. In later years Car- 
dinal McCloskey described one of these moments when she 
had sought spiritual help from him. "Is it necessary," she 
cried, "for Pierce to make this sacrifice and sacrifice me? 
I love my husband ; I love my darling children. Why must 
I give them up?" 

Amid the strain of conflicting feelings the weeks and 
months went by, and in March, 1841, her youngest son, 
Frank, was born. In the following September she made a 
retreat in which she seems to have received a clearer intima- 
tion of God's Will and of her own call to religious life. 
She writes: "Examined vocation. Decided. O my good 
Jesus, I give myself all to Thee to suffer and to die on the 
cross, poor as Thou wert poor, abandoned as Thou wert 

Although her consent was then definitely given, five years 
were to pass in suspense and delay before the matter was 
settled. Pierce Connelly went to Rome to lay his petition 
before the Holy Father, Pope Gregory XVI. The case 
was examined, and Cornelia was summoned to follow her 
husband in 1843. Two years later, after having heard the 
advice of many theologians and learned men, the Pope gave 
his consent to the separation, and Cornelia made in public 


a solemn vow of chastity. She had retired to the Convent 
of the Trinita in Rome with her two younger children until 
her destiny should be decided. On July 6, 1845, Pierce 
Connelly was ordained priest, and on the next day he said 
his first Mass in the church of the Trinita. While he stood 
at the altar Cornelia was singing in the choir the solemn 
words "Tu es sacerdos in teternam secundum ordinem Mel- 
chisedech" As the Holy Sacrifice proceeded the mother led 
their little daughter Adeline to receive her First Commu- 
nion from the hands of her father, and herself kneeling 
before him also received the Heavenly Spouse to Whom 
both had now sworn eternal fidelity. 

Cornelia was still undecided as to her own future, but 
one day while she was praying to know God's will, the 
answer came in a way that dispelled all doubt. In a mem- 
orable interview, Pope Gregory XVI declared to her that 
she was not called to join any existing order, but that a 
great work awaited her in God's Church. This work was 
to be the education of Catholic girls in England. It does 
not appear that the Holy Father then intimated to Cornelia 
that she was to be the actual foundress of the new order. 
The details were left vague for the moment, and she was 
instructed to draw up rules and constitutions suitable for 
such a foundation. The aim of the society was to be first 
the individual sanctification of its members, and then the 
extension of the Kingdom of Christ in the souls of others, 
especially of children, through education and spiritual works 
of mercy. 

As regards the cradle of the society, Cornelia's heart 
turned instinctively to America, but she gave way at once 
upon the Holy Father's saying to her, "From England, let 
your efforts in the cause of education reach America." This 
decision was principally due to the representations of Bishop 
Wiseman, now Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District 
and most zealous in his efforts for the conversion of Eng- 


land. He had long been seeking for some means of im- 
proving Catholic education for girls in England. The boys 
were not wholly unprovided for, but there was at that time 
very little possibility of a Catholic education for their sis- 
ters. The Earl of Shrewsbury, whose daughters had been 
educated chiefly in Rome and had subsequently married 
Italians, was also interested in the question. 1 Bishop Wise- 
man and Lord Shrewsbury had known Cornelia Connelly 
since her first visit to Rome in 1836, and to both she now 
seemed to offer a solution of the problem. 

Cornelia had secretly hoped that God might lead her into 
some contemplative order where, hidden from the world in 
which she had known joys so pure and grief so poignant, 
she might finish her days in prayer and penance for the 
souls of others, and above all in that intimate communion 
with Himself which had now become her daily solace. But 
in all things she was to sacrifice her own wishes. Her vo- 
cation was to be rooted and to flourish in utter self-abnega- 
tion and detachment. One consolation was given her in 
this hour. She greatly longed to have the Holy Name 
of Jesus in some way impressed as a seal upon her work, 
and He vouchsafed to grant this desire. One day, while 
praying for the future congregation, Cornelia distinctly 
heard the words, "Society of the Holy Child Jesus." From 
that moment she always thought of it and spoke of it under 
that sweet title. Once more her love for the Holy Child 
was supernaturally encouraged, when as she was working 
at the rule before a picture of Him in His Mother's arms, 
the Sacred Infant miraculously smiled upon her. 

On April 18, 1846, with the blessing of the Holy Father, 
Cornelia left Rome for England, where, under the pro- 
tection of Bishop Wiseman, she was to begin her life's 
work. Her elder son had already been for some years at 

1 Lady Mary Talbot married Prince Doria Pamfili, and Lady Gwendalin 
married the Prince of Sulmona, afterwards Prince Borghese. 


school in England. The two younger children accompanied 
her. It had been agreed that Adeline should complete her 
education under her mother's eye, and that little Frank, 
now five years old, should remain with her for three years 
and then join his elder brother at school. Almost imme- 
diately after her arrival in England, however, Mr. Connelly 
altered this decision and arranged that the two little ones 
should be sent away at once to school. This was a terrible 
blow to Mrs. Connelly. One of the companions, who had 
already joined her, writes of her at that time: "Never 
shall I forget the struggle of that separation. It was, I 
think, one of the greatest sacrifices she had to make. Still 
there was never seen a cloud of sadness; the generosity of 
her heart was marked on her countenance so that it was 
noticed by all around. It was at this time that I first knew 
her, and watched her as I would a saint. She was so patient 
and gentle, that I wondered how she could be so very calm 
and peaceful under so many annoying and trying circum- 


She had indeed allowed herself to be stripped of every- 
thing that made up her earthly happiness. In a letter to 
her brother-in-law, July, 1846, she writes: 

I have this moment received a letter from Pierce. 
He is well and deeply engaged in the duties of the 
ministry, instructing, preaching, hearing confessions, 
etc. So you see it is not for nothing that I have given 
him to God. You may be sure this thought gives me 
much consolation and we ought to look for a greater 
share of the divine love in proportion as we are willing 
to sacrifice our natural happiness. 

A home had been provided for the new society at Derby, 
where Mother Connelly, as she was now called, arrived 
with three companions in October, 1846. She was soon 
joined by several young girls who wished to give themselves 


to God in religion. She had begged to be the least and last 
among them, but Bishop Wiseman discerned the strength 
and wisdom grounded on humility which so well fitted her 
for government, and refused to allow her to shift the bur- 
den. The convent was begun not only in obedience, but 
also in real poverty, for now that her children were provided 
for, very little of her income remained. In after years 
Mother Connelly would recall this fact with satisfaction as 
having stamped the society from the beginning with the like- 
ness of Bethlehem. Immediately upon their arrival the 
sisters began to teach in the elementary schools attached 
to the church, and in the night schools for the Catholic fac- 
tory girls. Mother Connelly took her turn in teaching, 
superintended all the work of the house, and was employed 
by the priests in instructing some converts. The constraint 
of the past years of suspense was removed, and she was 
happy in the work for which God had so evidently destined 
her. All her former gayety blossomed anew, while upon 
the sweetness and power which was natural to her rested 
the gracious light of her union with God. Her spiritual 
children already loved and revered her as a saint. 

In distributing the community offices she took for herself 
that of infirmarian. One of her companions writes: 

The care she showed to each one was so like that 
of a mother, and she thought of so many things that 
we felt as safe and confiding as little children. . . . 
Her beautiful confidence and trust in God grew upon 
us so that the thought of not succeeding never entered 
into our minds, and this made us very happy and 

When Bishop Wiseman gave the religious habit to her 
and to some of the others, she said to them with simplicity, 
"As we are all novices now we shall learn perfection to- 
gether." "But she was far advanced in perfection," wrote 
one of them, "and understood practically the science of the 


saints. From the first she taught us how to live with and 
for the Holy Child. 77 

The year of Mother Connelly's noviceship passed quickly 
by, and in December, 1 847, the bishop wrote proposing to 
receive her religious vows. The Feast of St. Thomas, De- 
cember 21, was fixed for the ceremony. Mother Connelly 
then renewed in the presence of Bishop Wiseman the 
solemn vow of chastity she had taken in Rome, and added 
her religious vows of perpetual poverty and obedience ac- 
cording to the constitutions of the society, reserving to her- 
self the power, after prayer and the advice of her directors, 
to make any change in the rule which might appear to be 
desirable, for the greater good of the society. The cere- 
mony was followed by her solemn installation as superior 
of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. A seat was placed 
within the sanctuary to which she was conducted by the 
bishop, and at the foot of the altar she received the alle- 
giance of the community which God had appointed her to 
govern, each sister kneeling at her feet, and with the entire 
devotion of her heart tendering her obedience. 

A member of the community gives an account of her im- 
pressions of Mother Connelly at this time: 

When I first saw her she had the full enjoyment of 
her genius, her spirits and her beautiful voice. Her 
beauty was striking. No one could pass her without 
being struck with her appearance. Her complexion 
was pale and her eyes dark, if not black. She im- 
pressed me at once with her deep spirituality and her 
power of attracting hearts to herself in order to lead 
them on to God. 

At recreation, especially, all her delightful gifts appeared. 
She was as gay and bright then as she was reverent and 
recollected during the rest of the day. This hour was 
eagerly looked forward to by the novices, and was a time 
of real refreshment and happiness. 


In spite of Mother Connelly's exterior calmness there 
was always some sorrow beneath the surface. Her heart 
yearned for her children, especially for the two little ones 
recently removed from her care. She was full of compas- 
sion for them and tried as far as she could to cheer them 
by her bright, loving letters. There were other trials 
weighing upon her at the same time. Mr. Connelly had 
soon after his ordination accepted the position of chaplain 
to Lord Shrewsbury at Alton Towers. But he missed the 
variety and stir of life to which he had become accustomed 
in Rome, and the tone of his letters disquieted her. Lastly 
and most pressing of all, difficulties had arisen in the parish 
at Derby and from various causes, which would take too 
long to explain here, the sisters found themselves without 
fault of theirs faced with the prospect of having to leave 
the town. 

In this hour of distress and uncertainty the offer of a new 
home at St. Leonard's-on-Sea was made to them through 
Bishop Wiseman. Mother Connelly looked upon this un- 
expected opening as a direct intervention of Providence in 
their regard, and gratefully accepted it. In all that hap- 
pened she recognized God's ruling. "We are sisters of the 
Holy Child Jesus," she said. . "What must we expect but 
opposition, persecution and flight into Egypt?" When she 
went to see the property at St. Leonard's there was vouch- 
safed to her one of those trifling but consoling experiences 
which mean little to others but which impressed the soul that 
received them with confidence in the Divine protection. As 
she walked through the grounds and buildings and chapel, 
everything seemed familiar to her, and a sweet sense of 
home came over her spirit. She had seen it all beforehand 
in a dream and recognized every detail. Before evening 
she had written the good news to her novices at Derby, call- 
ing upon them all to unite in thanks to God for giving to 
their little society so beautiful a home. 


To those who forsake all things to follow Him, Our 
Lord promises a hundredfold even in this life, "houses . . . 
sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecu- 
tions." Mother Connelly had already experienced the first 
part of the promise and she had not long to wait for the 

The Reverend Pierce Connelly had been living for some 
months at Alton and had so far refrained from visiting the 
convent at Derby. This is not the place in which to describe 
the gradual failure of his high aspirations. Worldly am- 
bition had so worked upon him as insensibly to weaken and 
destroy his vocation. He began to hanker after his former 
life and to wish to regain his influence over Mother Con- 
nelly. In March, 1847, he appeared at the convent and 
attempted in various ways to resume authority over her. 
Failing in these attempts he suddenly removed his children 
from their several schools and took them to Italy, believ- 
ing this to be a sure means of inducing her to leave the con- 
vent. Her anxiety and grief were terrible, but she could 
not go back upon her sacred engagements. Not only was 
she bound by irrevocable vows, but she was also by this 
time the responsible superior of about twenty nuns. Mr. 
Connelly next conceived the extraordinary idea of obtaining 
power over her by posing as the founder of the society. 
He drew up a rule of his own and, with the intention of 
forcing it upon her, presented it for approbation in Rome. 
It was not long before his proceedings were made known 
to Mother Conn'elly who wrote at once to the Sacred Con- 
gregation of Propaganda disowning them in the name of 
the society. 

When Mr. Connelly found that all he could do and say 
were powerless against her resolution, reason and self-con- 
trol forsook him. He swore to ruin the convent and break 
up the Order. Before the end of 1848 he had instituted 
proceedings in the Protestant Court of Arches to reclaim 


his wife. The trial came on in May, 1849, an d judgment 
was given in favor of the plaintiff. Mother Connelly at 
once lodged an appeal to the Privy Council against the ver- 
dict. During the interval thus gained she was urged by her 
friends to fly from the country and seek safety in conceal- 
ment. But she steadfastly refused to desert her little com- 
munity. "We have nothing to fear," she replied, "God 
and the truth are on our side. To leave the country would 
be an unfaithful and cowardly step on my part, which might 
be destructive to the convent." 

Now, as ever, with clear sense and dignity and courage 
she saw the right way and steadily pursued it. She had 
thought it more conducive to the peace and recollection of 
the community that they should be kept in ignorance of the 
trial. Only one or two of the elders, themselves not much 
more than twenty years of age, shared the secret and gave 
her their silent sympathy. Long afterward they told of 
her marvelous self-control and how, in all the agony of 
her position, she never for one moment lost sight of what 
was fitting and holy, and never let fall one unconsidered 

Through the terrible months of suspense, while her most 
sacred feelings were made the topic of popular discussion 
throughout the country, she calmly continued her duties in 
the community with a quiet dignity which seemed to grow 
more sweet and tranquil in this time of bitter trial. Her 
trust in God partook almost of tht character of inspiration. 
It was unthinkable that He for whom she had given up all 
could fail her. Of such sort is the faith that works miracles, 
and we may without exaggeration look upon the verdict of 
the Privy Council as a miracle, if we take into account the 
outbreak of religious hostility which followed upon the 
restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy at this very time. 
While the "No-Popery" agitation was at its height, on June 
28, i8?i, the Privy Council reversed the judgment of the 


lower court and made Cornelia safe in her religious life, 
and in the observance of her vows. 

Pierce Connelly addressed a final appeal to the House 
of Commons in 1852, in terms so gross and slanderous that 
a debate was held as to whether it ought to be printed. As 
nothing came of it, he carried on for a time a campaign 
against the Church in general and convents in particular. 
After a year or two his activity subsided and he went to 
Italy with his three children whom he succeeded in with- 
drawing from their religion as well as from their allegiance 
to their mother. He acted as rector of the American 
Protestant Church in Florence until his death in 1883. 
One last letter he wrote to Mother Connelly in 1853 beg- 
ging her to return to him. After that silence fell between 

It would be superfluous to comment on the suffering 
caused to Mother Connelly by these events, or on the 
ceaseless mental strain of nearly six years' duration which 
they entailed. Henceforward this chapter of her life was 
sealed for ever. But the loss and perversion of her chil- 
dren was a wound which never healed. When Adeline 
grew up she spent a few weeks in the convent, but all inti- 
macy had vanished. It was the same with Frank. He visited 
his mother twice for a few hours, but these visits merely 
added to her sorrow. Mercer returned to America as soon 
as he had finished his education, and died of fever before 
completing his twenty-first year. After her mother's death 
Adeline returned to the faith of her baptism and lived 
a holy life devoted to good works. She died in 1900 
of an illness contracted while charitably nursing a poor 

After the community had settled at St. Leonard's, 
Mother Connelly was able to give more definite shape to 
the plans she had formed for the society, plans which show 
a comprehensive idealism very characteristic of her. As 


she saw the needs of the Church in England, and as her 
knowledge of souls and their different capabilities increased, 
her heart expanded with the desire to make room for all 
vocations and to supply all needs. She wished the society 
not to be confined to education, although education was its 
principal 'exterior work, but to undertake all spiritual works 
of mercy, visiting the sick and dying, instructing converts, 
preparing women and girls for the Sacraments, bringing up 
orphans, providing retreats for seculars, and training young 
Catholic servants. She also wished that some of the reli- 
gious might be set aside to live a more contemplative life, 
reciting the Divine Office, praying in perpetual adoration 
before the Blessed Sacrament, and employing their free 
time in Church needlework, the painting of sacred subjects, 
and the writing and translation of spiritual books. She 
made some beginning in this direction at Derby, but the 
great demand for apostolic work made the complete reali- 
zation of her wishes impossible at the time. 

She had a special love for poor children, and though the 
principal work at St. Leonard's was, a boarding school for 
the upper classes, she also established an elementary school 
there as soon as possible. She taught the nuns to consider 
it a special privilege to be chosen to teach these children 
whom Our Lord most resembled on earth. When, there- 
fore, in 1851, Cardinal Wiseman asked her for some sisters 
to teach in the Gate Street Schools in Lincoln's Inn Fields, 
she responded at once. This led to the foundation of a 
convent in London and was the beginning of the 'expansion 
of the society. Foundations were asked for in many places 
long before Mother Connelly had nuns to send, but by 
1864 there were six convents of the society in England 
and two in America. 

As her communities grew and multiplied, Mother Con- 
nelly's heart seemed to grow with them. She strengthened 
and encouraged her absent children by frequent letters, and 


watched with a mother's solicitude over their wants both 
spiritual and temporal. Her great desire was that they 
might grow in heavenly knowledge and cherish the interior 
spirit which she had always taught them to look upon as 
"the life and soul of their vocation." "We have given 
ourselves to God in religion," she wrote, "not to be any- 
thing less than perfect religious, not to be housekeepers nor 
dressmakers, nor artists, nor musicians, nor schoolmis- 
tresses, nor authoresses nor superiors." Her own interior 
spirit was exceedingly simple and her prayer for her chil- 
dren was always that they might take the one true and 
simple view of things, understanding that the great object 
of their lives was to please God and to be wholly set upon 
doing His will. 

In the daily duties laid upon them by obedience, she 
taught, they would find both the means of their sanctifica- 
tion and the perfect accomplishment of God's will. But it 
needed the golden touch of love to transform the ordinary 
things of every day into a masterpiece for heaven. 

Let all be diligent in giving daily proofs of love 
this year [she wrote in 1854] and as you step through 
the muddy streets, love God with your feet, and when 
your hands toil, love Him with your hands ; and when 
you teach the little children, love Him in His little 
ones ; and thus may you be blessed in each action and 
in each member with an abundance of Divine love, 
and purified and prepared in this world as far as pos- 
sible to enjoy an eternity of love. 

Between the years 1848 and 1863 Mother Connelly was 
building up with insight and power the educational system 
of the society. Her whole career with its varied experience 
had been a preparation for this work, and to it she devoted 
the rich gifts of her mind and heart. Her outlook was 
essentially modern and her views were large and generous. 
Freedom within the spacious boundaries of reasonable laws, 


confidence and a spirit of cooperation, joyous activity both 
in carefully chosen studies and in healthy and interesting 
play these were the foundations on which she built up 
her plans for a "sunny, sinless childhood." 

Rules for the use of those teaching in the schools and 
hints on methods were from time to time written down by 
her. By degrees this led to the idea of a summary which 
should embody the educational system of the society. In 
1863 the Book of Studies thus evolved was printed. Mother 
Connelly wrote in the preface : 

We have before us the Book of Studies, which is 
simply the same sort of guide as a chart is to the trav- 
eler. We must use it in the same way to assist us in 
the sweetly laborious duty of education. 

Though we so well know that great things are 
achieved only by untiring labour and suffering we some- 
times forget that in training and teaching children it 
is absolutely necessary to walk step by step, to teach 
line by line, to practise virtue little by little, in act after 
act, and only by such acts of virtue as are suited to 
the age and stage of moral and intellectual develop- 
ment of those we are guiding. 

Mother Connelly's moral training was a spirit rather 
than a system firmly rooted in unchanging principles, yet 
varied in application and elastic in detail. Many things 
have altered since the days when she was the life and inspira- 
tion of her schools. This is what she herself would have 
wished. She knew that education must be ever adapting 
itself to changing conditions, in vital contact with contem- 
porary social life. So she took care to insert in the rule 
that her nuns were bound to u meet the wants of the age 
while leading their children to true piety and solid virtue." 
Her spirit still lives unchanged, and in the schools of the 
society to-day, as in her lifetime, it teaches Holy Child girls 
to honor simplicity, truth, and kindness, to be ready for 


self-sacrifice, to love holiness, and to keep a cheerful heart 
in the midst of trials. 

Mother Connelly's spiritual ambition had been a perfect 
imitation of Christ in a life of action and contemplation or, 
as expressed in her own beautiful words, "to live on this 
earth in His society, despising all earthly things, being 
spiritually crucified and sealed in faith according to His 
own image." How far this ideal was attained must be 
guessed from the story of her life. 

From her own words, spoken in confidence to one of her 
nuns, we gather that she enjoyed a continual sense of the 
presence of God, which was not interrupted even during 
sleep, that prayer with her was habitual and effortless, that 
a word upon the attributes of God was enough to capture 
her soul and fix it spellbound in adoration, that though she 
carefully prepared her meditation, she was able to dwell 
upon a predetermined subject only for a few seconds, and 
then her soul took flight wherever God might guide it. All 
these things betray the supernatural heights of her prayer. 
Some of the accidentals of mysticism, its flowers dropped by 
the way, we know to have come to her, such as the title of 
her society supernaturally given in response to her longing to 
have it made lovely with the name of Jesus, the smiles of 
the Holy Child which beamed down upon her from His 
picture, as she tried to express in the words of her rule His 
spirit and His desires. Her children tell of signal graces 
vouchsafed in answer to her prayers, of peace restored to 
troubled minds by the mere pressure of her hand upon their 
heads or by her simple "God bless you." 

Mother Connelly had won through hard and strange 
ways to the haven of inward peace in which the latter half 
of her life was spent. In the early days of her spiritual life 
she had received the grace to appreciate the value of suffer- 
ing, and it was one of her fundamental principles that the 
sufferings that God sends are more sanctifying than any of 


our own choice. "Take the cross He sends, as it is, and not 
as you imagine it ought to be," she wrote, and was never 
tired of repeating. And again: "Voluntary penance is 
chiefly useful in enabling us to accept what God sends." 
She was accustomed to recite the Laudete whenever any 
special trial befell her, and her children used to recognize 
such occasions by the more than ordinary brightness of her 
face and manner. 

Those who saw her for the first time were impressed 
with the indescribable appearance of sanctity which, increas- 
ingly toward the close of her life, seemed to radiate from 
her eyes and in her smile. This was particularly noticed 
by children. 

Her love of God was almost seraphic [wrote a sis- 
ter]. When speaking of Him, even at recreation, she 
would seem transported out of herself. She was very 
fond of the French hymns, particularly of the one be- 
ginning, "II n'est pour moi qu'un seul bien sur la terre" 
This she often sang for us at recreation, her face be- 
coming illuminated, and her whole soul pouring itself 
forth. As we listened to her and watched her joy in 
singing the praises of God, we felt almost raised from 
earth to Heaven. She 'had a beautiful voice which 
sounded spiritual as well as being rich and sweetly 

Sometimes after Holy Communion the nuns and children 
used to remark a brightness in her face that they considered 
supernatural. "I used to love to see her returning to her 
place after receiving Holy Communion," wrote one. "Such 
a bright, beautiful look was on her face, that- many a time 
as a child I wondered if she were really looking at Our 
Lord and 'could see Him properly.' " 

She loved all the saints, and would follow their festivals 
throughout the year with a joy and interest which flowed 
from, but did not break up, the simplicity of her spiritual 


life. In fact, the sisters used laughingly to say that she 
had as many patron saints as there were days in the year. 
Still, it was easy to pick out the special objects of her devo- 
tion. First and foremost in her heart was the Holy Child 
Jesus. This attraction in one whose children had been 
taken from her under such painful circumstances illustrates 
the loving Providence of Him who said that they who do 
His Father's will shall be to Him as brother and sister and 
mother. She always had on her desk the picture of the 
Divine Child in His Mother's arms which had smiled upon 
her in Rome. 

Mother Connelly imitated the Hidden Life in her reti- 
cence about her own life in the world and in her love of 
humble labors. For about twenty-five years, until increasing 
work and ill health made it impossible, she took her part in 
the manual work of the house. On Mondays she served 
the community at dinner with great diligence. This prac- 
tice she continued even when enfeebled by age, and a sister 
relates how "quietly and gently" she served. 

Once a week in the first years she rose at 4 A.M., with 
others of the community to help in the weekly washing, 
and she spent the midday recreation with the sisters in the 
laundry busily ironing. She would often enliven the work 
by inviting the others to race with her, thus uniting joyful 
simplicity with labor. The sisters used to say that her child- 
like gayety was a special grace from the Infant Jesus, and 
it is an extraordinary trait in one who suffered so much. In 
spite of the trials and anxieties constantly weighing upon 
her, she retained her youthful enjoyment of the simple 
pleasures that came in her way, and never absented herself 
from any of the little community festivities. She taught 
that even in sickness and in sorrow there should always be 
joy in the heart, and that a smile should show the sunshine 
of the soul. 

Less than two years before her death she told some of 


the sisters that in her mind she still felt as young as ever, 
and had not lost the power of finding pleasure in the small- 
est thing. She had a wonderful gift of making work and 
recreation delightful. "It is almost impossible to convey 
in words an idea of her bright, joyous spirit," said one of 
her first companions, "or of the charm of her personality. 
Yet beneath it you were at all times conscious of a quiet, 
reverent strength which told of her union with God. You 
could not approach her without being reminded of His 

She was accustomed to speak quite familiarly with Our 
Lord and the saints, and said laughingly one day, "I never 
quarrel with Our Lord and Our Lady at the same time. If 
I am out with Our Lord I keep in with Our Lady, and so I 
am never entirely in desolation." 

She was fond of the word "delicate" as applied to the 
service of God, and would speak of the delicate conscien- 
tiousness with which we should devote ourselves to His 
work. This was apparent in every detail of her own con- 
duct. She could not bear the least appearance of negligence 
in the church or sacristy, and she would whisper a word of 
reproach if she saw a hasty genuflection or a lack of recol- 
lected demeanor in church. She shrank, too, from a certain 
vulgarity in dealing with God which souls sometimes display. 
"Oh, how ungrateful it is to haggle with Our Lord over 
the daily crosses of this short pilgrimage I" she exclaims 
in a letter. "Can we ever be grateful enough for being 
admitted to Vows and to the wearing of His livery!" 

I have every reason to believe from her words, at 
different times [wrote a religious who was admitted 
to her special confidence] that, like St. Teresa, she had 
obtained permission to make the vow to do always 
what was most perfect. She would pray and act with 
a decision and confidence that was very encouraging to 
those who depended on her for guidance. ... I have 


known her for thirty-one years, and have seen her 
deeply afflicted and tried in every way, but I may say 
I never saw her lay aside that calm dignity so much to 
be admired in one in authority. She was accustomed 
to perform her actions with an active quiet and a quiet 
activity that could proceed only from a soul deeply 
united with God. 

Mother Connelly's whole-hearted devotion to the works 
of the society in England did not cause her to lose the least 
part of her love for America. She never forgot the words 
of Pope Gregory XVI, spoken to her when she expressed 
the desire that the cradle of her society should be in her 
own dear land: "From England, let your efforts in the 
cause of education reach America." Intensely American 
at heart, she longed to see the fulfillment of these prophetig 
words which seemed to her to contain a command. 

The first call to the United States came in 1855, in the 
form of an invitation to Texas. At that time, however, 
subjects were not available and the invitation was sorrow- 
fully declined. Six years later, in 1862, another opportunity 
presented itself and after many trials and delays, insep- 
arable it would seem from any work Mother Conn'elly had 
at heart, she saw the fulfillment of her desire. Louisa, 
Duchess of Leeds, a daughter of Richard Caton, and grand- 
daughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, herself an 
ardent American, offered Mother Connelly two thousand 
acres of land in Lycoming County, and one hundred and 
fifty acres in Towanda, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 
for a foundation in America. It took fourteen months to 
secure the permission of Bishop Grant of Southwark for 
the sisters to leave his diocese, and it seemed as if a founda- 
tion in Australia would be made instead of that in the 
United States. Mother Connelly's prayers and persever- 
ance, however, were at last rewarded, and in company with 
Bishop McCloskey and Bishop Wood, who were returning 


to the United States from Rome, the first contingent of 
Holy Child Sisters crossed the Atlantic in the Scotia. 
Mother Connelly bade them Godspeed on the deck of the 
vessel at Liverpool, her heart overflowing with joy and 
gratitude to God for granting her prayer. These first sis- 
ters included Mother Mary Xavier Noble, superior, and 
Mother Lucy Ignatia, assistant. 

The Scotia with its precious freight arrived at New York 
on August 12, 1862, after the quickest voyage then known, 
and Bishop Wood escorted the party of sisters to his resi- 
dence in Philadelphia, and had them dine with him. Dur- 
ing the meal an orchestra playing as a welcome home to 
the bishop, struck up "Home, Sweet Home." Out of def- 
erence for the feelings of the sisters, the bishop immedi- 
ately requested the players to change the tune, thus mani- 
festing the kindness of heart he always felt for others. 
Immediately after dinner, the bishop conducted the sisters 
to the Convent of St. Joseph on Summer Street. The Sis- 
ters of the Holy Child always speak with gratitude of 
the kindness lavished on them by the Sisters of St. Joseph 
during this time, when their generous hospitality was espe- 
cially grateful after the long voyage. 

On the following day, Bishop Wood introduced the sis- 
ters to Father C. I. Carter, vicar general, whose name 
became a household word in the society as that of their 
chief support in the early days, and a signal benefactor, one 
of the many staunch and loyal friends the society has found 
in the American clergy. His grave in the convent ceme- 
tery at Sharon, under the beautiful statue of Our Lady 
erected by himself, is visited daily by prayerful hearts and 
thus his desire for the prayers of the sisters has been 
abundantly realized. 

Father Carter accompanied Mother Mary Xavier and 
Mother Lucy Ignatia to Towanda on August 18, for an 
inspection of the property. In spite of disappointment, 


and what would have seemed insurmountable obstacles to 
less heroic souls, these two noble women summoned the 
remainder of the band to join them. When one reads the 
account of the two years spent at Towanda, the description 
of the characters of these first sisters is easily understood 
Mother Mary Xavier, "one of those souls who seem to 
refuse nothing to God, eager for sacrifice," and Mother 
Lucy Ignatia, "won all hearts by her untiring kindness and 
thoughtfulness for others." The agent in whom the duchess 
had confidence had proven false to his trust and had mis- 
represented many things. The house which he had called 
a "frame mansion" proved to be a mere shed, and the one 
thousand Catholic families whom he had assured her were 
awaiting the arrival of the sisters were not there. Orie of 
the sisters wrote: 

The house was a frame building of two stories and 
an attic, with a slanting and unplastered roof that had 
been for years the habitation of rats and spiders ; and 
the whole building was not in such good repair as the 
stables of the land-agent. . There was hardly any fur- 
niture, and instead of opening school at once, as they 
had intended, the sisters were obliged to spend the 
first few weeks in papering, painting, cleaning, and 
otherwise rendering habitable their new convent. The 
whole building was so unsafe, owing to its foundations 
having given way in many parts, that the workmen 
who were repairing it feared every morning to find 
the occupants buried beneath the ruins. 

The sisters, however, continued to write bright and cheer- 
ful letters to Mother Connelly, making light of their pri- 
vations so that it took many letters from Father Carter to 
induce her to give up this first foundation. The convent 
journal betrays the real want and suffering. In one place 
we read, "The nuns became well used to being hungry, 


since the pea soup" (their staple food) "was only greenish 
water with a pea or two at the bottom of the bowl." What 
they felt more, however, was the deprivation of the Holy 
Sacrifice. They never had Mass on two consecutive Sun- 
days, and even the renewal of vows had to be made with- 
out the reception of Holy Communion. Father Carter had 
been able to find out something of the real state of the com- 
munity in spite of the refusal of the sisters to complain, 
and in a letter to Mother Connelly he said : 

With regard to the sufferings and privations of the 
Sisters at Towanda during last winter and a part of 
this, God knows it is worthy of the Christians of the 
first ages of the Church. They have borne them with 
patience and resignation and never did I hear the least 
complaint, but they always carried cheerful and smil- 
ing countenances. ... It has only been within the 
last few weeks that I began to suspect that they were 
deficient in necessaries. When I inquired, I ascer- 
tained (not from the Sisters) that some mornings when 
they got up they did not know where their breakfast 
would come from, and with regard to their bedding, 
they had to use their habits, cloaks, old pieces of car- 
pet, etc. And even since, when I put the plain question 
on the subject, I got smiling and 'evasive answers. But 
I got sufficient, and this determined me what course 
to pursue. 

He also wrote of the convent in Towanda that the build- 
ing was a * 'miserable shanty, far inferior to the stables 
and cow hous'es in England." 

In the meantime, Mother Mary Xavier became very ill, 
and the health of the other sisters began to be a source of 
anxiety. These facts, together with the news of the death of 
one of the sisters at the convent already established at Father 
Carter's school of the Assumption, 1135 Spring Garden 


Street, Philadelphia, induced Mother Conn'elly to close the 
Towanda house in 1864, an d sen d ^e sisters to augment 
the community at the Assumption. 

Although the health of the sisters had been materially 
undermined by their sojourn in Towanda, they were loath 
to leave the place and always spoke of it with affection. 
More than one loyal friendship was there cemented. One 
of the students in the school they labored so hard to found 
became a postulant, and, as Mother Saint Michael Dunn, 
spent many years in heroic work in Cheyenne and in 

Father Carter, in the summer of the same year, 1864, 
purchased "for nuns and children in need of country air" 
a large estate at Sharon Hill in Delaware County, Penn- 
sylvania. The colonial building which had been a Quaker 
school has been added to, and a gray stone chapel, built 
in English Gothic style, one of the few examples of that 
type in America, was erected by Mother Mary Walburga 
White. She was provincial of the American province for 
more than a quarter of a century, and her name is held in 
benediction among the sisters. Sharon became the mother 
house and novitiate, and at the present time, although there 
are two provinces of the society in America, the Eastern 
and the Middle-West province, Sharon is the only novitiate 
in this country. 

Mother Connelly's solicitude for her children in America 
was boundless, and her frequent letters succeeded in 
preserving the Cornum et anima una as entirely as if 
the Atlantic did not lie between England and America. 
Space forbids the quotation of her advice on many subjects. 
We give one, however, which is typical: 

Take care to keep your children up to all that the 
good priests wish and never forget that if your efforts 
are crowned with success, it is always safest and best 
to let all the glory go to God and His priests, rather 


than to take any to ourselves; and give way in all 
things regarding the parish, to the priest of the par- 
ish. This is the way to do the work of God and to 
labour with real merit. I want to hear that the Bishop 
and priests are pleased with your efforts, and then I 
shall be at ease and know that you are working in 
docility and obedience to those whom God has placed 
over us. There is no virtue so necessary to every true 
religious as humility, true humility that claims no re- 
ward here, but gives all to God, looking only to His 
good pleasure and the salvation of souls. 

Father Carter visited St. Leonard's-on-Sea, then the 
mother house, in 1867. Mother Connelly fully appreciated 
his great-hearted character, and had confidence in his judg- 
ment and experience. Father Carter persuaded Mother 
Connelly to visit the United States, and she, with two com- 
panions, spent five weeks in her native land in the latter 
part of the year 1867. This, Mother Connelly's only visit 
to America, was the occasion of great rejoicing to all her 
children here. Here, as always, she gave the example of 
self-sacrifice. She sought none of her friends, and visited 
none of the scenes so dear to her heart. Those of her kin 
and acquaintances who came to visit her were received with 
her own sweet cordiality, but she did not seek them. All 
who met her were charmed with her attractive personality 
and edified by her holiness which her deep humility was 
unable to conceal. Nine of the girls who were privileged 
to speak with her became, later, members of the commu- 
nity. During this brief visit, Mother Connelly purchased 
the property on the corner of Thirty-ninth and Chestnut 
streets, Philadelphia, on which two stone buildings had just 
been erected, and founded there St. Leonard's Hous'e. This 
property has been enlarged by the purchase of adjoining 
grounds and the building of a gymnasium and other accom- 
modations, and is now a flourishing day school for girls 


ranging from primary to fourth year high school, and for 
boys as far as their entrance into high school. 

Mother Connelly was never again able to visit America, 
but her heart was in her convents there, and the nuns were 
entirely loyal and devoted during the trials of the later 
years of their sainted Mother's life. Once indeed Mother 
Connelly was on the point of embarking to revisit her be- 
loved country, when she learned that her son Frank was to 
make the voyage on the same vessel. Sending one of her 
companions in her place, she turned back, seeing here, as in 
all things, the holy will of God to which she was singularly 

Before Mother Connelly's death few convents of the 
society were permanently established in the United States, 
but the growth, although slow, was sure. To-day the Sisters 
of the Holy Child Jesus, scattered in many states from 
Massachusetts to Oregon, are striving to carry out the 
ideals of their foundress, to meet the wants of the age, and 
to train children in her wise and gentle spirit. Besides a 
number of private schools in splendid standing, the society 
teaches parochial schools in Massachusetts, New York, 
Philadelphia, Chicago, Cheyenne, and Portland. Rosemont 
College of the Holy Child Jesus, situated on a beautiful 
estate of forty acres eleven miles from Philadelphia, al- 
though only in its first years, has already added to the orig- 
inal buildings a large gymnasium, a library, a dormitory, 
and a building containing lecture halls. In the student body 
of Rosemont College are to be found girls from nearly 
every school of the Holy Child in America. 

In the annals of every house founded by the society many 
instances delightful and edifying, of trials, privations, even 
misfortunes borne with the same joyous spirit as were those 
of Towanda, abound, but this is not the place for their 
recital which must await another opportunity. 

The story of the next seventeen years is a record of ever- 


increasing responsibilities for Mother Connelly. We can- 
not dwell here upon her multiplied labors, upon her jour- 
neys to France, to Rome and to America, nor upon the in- 
numerable trials which beset her path as a foundress and 
a pioneer. There Were difficulties over the property at 
St. Leonard's, difficulties brought on by her own subjects, 
difficulties in the work of education and difficulties attend- 
ant on the development and approbation of the rule. Her 
life knew no outward rest. Labors and sufferings were her 
daily bread, but her will was so firmly and lovingly united 
to God that she was strong to endure whatever He might 

As old age crept upon that noble form worn with labor 
and trial and unceasing care for the welfare of others, 
Mother Connelly became, if possible, more gentle, more 
gracious and calm, more easy of access to all who needed 
her help. Age could not weaken the bright and loving 
spirit, so quick to understand, so ready to share the joys 
and sorrows of each one of her children. The instinct of 
rulership was in her always, but it had been tempered by 
sorrow and by her own generous cooperation with grace till 
she appeared to her religious children as the 'embodiment 
of patience and gentleness and governed them to use the 
words of her rule "with the strength of a superior and 
the heart of a mother." 

The last foundation which was made personally by 
Mother Connelly was at Neuilly-sur-Seine just outside Paris 
where a community was established in 1876. Soon after 
this work was completed the health of the foundress, which 
had been failing for some time, broke down completely, 
and during the remaining two years of her life she was a 
constant invalid. By the spring of 1879 it was evident 
that the end could not be far off. Through all her great 
suffering of body Mother Connelly's mind remained as 
clear as 'ever, and her soul dwelt in peace beneath the hand 


of God, as, with the shadows deepening around, her brave 
spirit prepared for the last great venture of death. 

Over forty years of spiritual experience lay behind her as 
she looked down the vista of her life. All the crowded in- 
terests and anxieties of those difficult years had be'en unified 
and exalted by divine love, and now at length the holocaust 
was complete and the reward at hand. 

Her devotion to God's will had been striking at times, 
and increased as the end drew near. "Doing the will of 
God is the only happiness and the only thing worth living 
for," she often repeated, showing clearly that she was ex- 
pressing a truth which had become as the very breath of 
her life. On April 14 she was anointed for the second 
time in her long illness, and on the 18 of April, 1879, God 
called her to Himself. She was seventy years of age, and 
it was the anniversary of the day on which thirty-three 
years before she had gone forth from Rome to begin her 
appointed task. Every step had been taken in obedience, 
every trial had been accepted in love, and now without 
anxiety or fear she calmly yielded up her soul to God. 

All that she worked for has been given to her after her 
death. Her rule bears the seal of the Church's approval 
with added words of special praise. Her children in 
Europe and America are striving to uphold her ideals and 
carry out her teaching. Her name and her words are con- 
stantly upon their lips, and they humbly hope that in God's 
good tim'e He may grant their unceasing prayer and crown 
her work by glorifying even on earth this His faithful serv- 
ant by raising her to the honors of the altar. 




THE Cheyenne Indians of Montana never say, "I love 
you." Such an expression of endearment is unknown to 
them. They voice their affection in words something like 
these, "I take my heart and place it next to yours." 

Toward the close of the last century a woman came out 
from civilization to place her heart next to that of the 
Cheyenn'e nation and in return to claim for herself and God 
the love of these Western Indians. This was the great 
Mother Mary Amadeus of the Heart of Jesus, Foundress 
of the Ursuline Missions of Montana and Alaska, and 
known to-day as the "Teresa of the Arctics." 

Sarah Theresa Dunne was born on Courthouse Hill, in 
Akron, Ohio, July 2, 1846. She made her first Holy Com- 
munion when she was but eight years old, an unusually 
young age in those years for a child to be admitted to the 
Sacred Table. One day, for this was the time of bigotry 
in Ohio, the teacher in the public school undertook to speak 
against the Catholic Church. Sarah, the tiniest in the 
crowded schoolroom, protested. "I am going home," she 
said. "My mother told me I should not listen to any lies 
against the True Church, for I am an Irish Catholic." The 
child was received in the open arms of the mother, and as 
the two hearts beat as one, the parent kept saying: "What 
is to become of this child, for surely the grace of God is 
with her." 

When Sarah Theresa was ten years old she entered the 
school of the Cleveland Ursulines. Here she became the 



leader and the heart-winner of her companions as well as 
of her teachers. Often she would stop in the midst of 
her play and, as another Joan of Arc listening to her voices, 
she would exclaim, "Some day I shall be a missionary in 
the Rocky Mountains and in Alaska." And the astonished 
girls would answer, "Oh, Sarah, you won't either, you know 
you won't I" "You will see," little Sarah would reply, and 
then she would continue her play with the energy and whole- 
souledness that characterized her entire life. 

Sarah not only studied in the Cleveland convent of the 
Ursulines but she prayed there as well. She was beginning 
that life of self-crucifixion which she practiced until her 
death. Had it not been for the wisdom of the sisters, the 
little one would have gone to Heaven her great work un- 
done. She was accustomed to spend many hours on her 
knees, erect and without support, before the Blessed Sacra- 
ment. During her thirteenth year she made such strides 
in the way of perfection that she attracted the attention of 
the saintly Father Gaudentius, one of the founders of the 
American Passionists, and friend to the distinguished Father 
Dominic, who received Cardinal Newman into the Church. 
Father Gaudentius often saw the child absorbed in prayer, 
and one day he called her to the foot of the Blessed Vir- 
gin's statue and allowed her to consecrate herself to God 
by the irrevocable vow of chastity. This was July 1 1, 1859. 
When the ceremony was over the priest said to Mother 
Annunciation, the superior, "This child looks like Mary in 
the Temple." 

September 2, 1862, Sarah was clothed with the habit of 
the Ursuline Order, in Toledo, and was given the name of 
Amadeus of the Heart of Jesus. Two years later she pro- 
nounced her vows. After her profession, she, like her 
Savior, went up "into the mountains alone," for she was 
always silent concerning this time of her life. Father Faber 
says that every soul must have a s'ecret that it tells to no 


one. This secret for Sister Mary Amadeus was the year 
that followed her profession. During it there are intima- 
tions of some very special communications with God, but 
these have never been confirmed. It is sufficient to say, 
however, that her sisters in religion looked upon her with 
something akin to awe and veneration. 

Sister Mary Amadeus continued to lead this hidden life 
for ten years. During all this time God was fashioning her 
for great honors and responsibilities. And Mother Al- 
phonsus, then superior of the community, was having a 
hand in this divine workmanship. She began to mold the 
young shoulders for the heavy burden of superiorship 
which she seemed to realize would soon fall upon them. 
But unsuspecting Sister Mary Amadeus stood apart from 
all the plans that were being formulated in her regard, and 
entered only into the anxieties that were being felt for the 
health of the superior. Her love for Mother Alphonsus 
was so great that when the latter died in 1874 and Sister 
Mary Amadeus was appointed to write the news to the 
bishop her arm was momentarily paralyzed. And when 
she removed her headdress that night her auburn hair had 
turned white as driven snow. She entered de'eper into her 
accustomed silence, communing with her grief, and causing 
herself to be forgotten, as she thought, by those around 
her. But although she had hidden herself away in silence 
and in sorrow, she was attracting the hearts of all her sis- 
ters in religion; and when the election was held in October 
of that year, Sister Mary Amadeus, one of the youngest 
in the community, was chosen to succeed the great Mother 
Alphonsus. Yet she was not afraid. Rather, she was as 
buoyant, as full of trust in God, as a Catherin of Siena. 
She continued in the office of superior for six years, and 
after her two terms had expired she became Mistress of 
Novices, in which retirement God found her when He came 
to take her to the Indians of Montana. 


When in 1879 the United States Government had at- 
tempted to move the Cheyenne Indians of Montana into 
the Indian Territory, they had refused to go. General 
Miles had accomplished much in quieting them, but they 
were still restless and the authorities were ill at ease. Some 
one suggested to Bishop Brondel, first Bishop of Helena, 
that he secure the services of some sisters, expressing con- 
fidence that Catholic religious could do more to train these 
wild children of the plains than could a regiment of sol- 
diers with arms and force. The bishop wrote to his brother 
prelates east of the Mississippi for a colony of sisters and 
one ecclesiastic came to his assistance. This was Bishop 
Gilmour, of Toledo. Through the columns of the Catholic 
Universe the Ohio bishop asked for volunteers to evange- 
lize the Cheyennes of Montana. Thirty-six Ursulines re- 
sponded and one of them was Mother Mary Amadeus. 
Out of the thirty-six who offered themselves for the mis- 
sions Bishop Gilmour selected six. To Mother Mary 
Amadeus he said: "I appoint you Superior-General of all 
the houses you may found in Montana." "My Lord," she 
replied, u what are these houses to be?" "Whatever you 
make them." "And whence their support?" further queried 
Mother Amadeus. "My child, God never sent a bird out 
into the forest without caring for it. How much more 
will He care for you." Thus was the momentous question 
settled between these souls of great faith. 

The bishop wrote at once to Bishop Brondel, "I am 
sending you six Ursulines for a Christmas present, and the 
Flower of my Flock is at their head." 

The morning of departure day stout Ursuline hearts 
suppressed tears with smiling countenances. But the Ursu- 
line is a deep well of sacrifice ; she is satiated with partings 
of every nature, from all but One. The Toledo commu- 
nity grieved, but it felt honored by this departure and kept 
repeating the words of the Ursulines of Tours in 1639, 


"Is it possible that God has destined our house for so great 
an honor?" But it was not surprised that Mother Mary 
Amadeus was going to the missions. The sisters had long 
felt a secret presentiment that God would draw her out 
of the enclosure for the accomplishment of some great 
work. When the missionaries crossed their convent thres- 
hold they knew that they were going from home and friends 
into the wilderness, but yet they were so buoyed up by a 
supernatural joy, that they could scarcely control its exu- 
berance. The old familiar scenes and the dear faces re- 
ceded in the distance and they were at last alone, yet not 
depressed. Incredible though it may seem, they said that 
the plenitude of their joy that day was so great that they 
could not express it in human words. 

When the sisters arrived in Montana there began for 
them the very poetry of privation. Despite the generosity 
of the Toledo Ursulines they suffered keenly for the want 
of the simplest necessaries of life. Their rations consisted 
mainly of corn meal. Once they were the proud possessors 
of a few oranges which a dealer had brought them because, 
as he said, "they are rotten and I cannot sell them." Often 
at table they would pass the empty bread plate about and 
laughingly announce, "I'm not hungry." They made a 
brave show of smiling as they kept, "with many a quaint 
device their secret of self-sacrifice." And it was only very 
much later that the secret of their actual need became 
known. Father Lindesmith, army chaplain at Fort Keogh, 
one day met a little girl running through the streets. He 
stopped her to ask her errand. "I am going to the butcher 
shop to buy ten cents worth of liver for the nuns," she 
said. The priest's heart was touched; and "Ten cents 
worth of liver for the nuns" became the text of the follow- 
ing Sunday's sermon; and with it the bitter need came to 
an 'end. 

But the love which the Indians gave to Mother Amadeus 


as a return for her goodness to them more than made up 
for all the hardships that she and her sisters were forced to 
endure. Because of this confidence not only was she able 
to quiet the tribes along the Tongue River, but she was 
able to make them lovers of the Blessed Sacrament. The 
government soon recognized in this unusual woman its 
greatest asset in its dealings with the Indians, and Heaven 
itself must have smiled with gratitude on her apostolic 

Mother Amadeus called her tiny chapel the "Holy Re- 
serve," and watched over it jealously, for it was the Lord's 
only trysting place in the Yellowstone Valley. One spring 
the river flooded its banks and rose so high that the danger 
became alarming. The chaplain who at the time was 
away from the mission sent word to Mother Amadeus that 
if the church was threatened she should take the Blessed 
Sacrament with her. She watched' the rising waters, almost 
hoping that they would invade her domain and that she 
might fly into Egypt, as Mary did, with her Lord in her 
arms. But the waters subsided, and the routine of convent 
life was not disturbed. 

In 1897 the Jesuits who had ministered to the needs of 
the Indians at St. Labre's Mission for so long a time were 
recalled by their provincial. Mother Amadeus comforted 
the nuns in their sorrow and promised that no expense would 
be spared to have another priest for the mission. This 
determination saved for the sisters the most Blessed Sacra- 
ment. Although they had no priest to minister to them the 
consolation of religion, yet the knowledge that the Blessed 
Sacrament was in their midst caused them to love the 
Sacred Presence even more tenderly than ever before. They 
strove to make up by prayer and adoration for the absence 
of the august sacrifice. Mother Mary Amadeus organized 
the Perpetual Adoration before the closed and silent door. 
The sisters realized that a new responsibility had been 


added to their old love, for they had become the only 
guardians of the King of Heaven in the little Montana 

In those days the Ursulines were very closely united, 
clinging to one another, in a sort of loving consciousness 
of their helplessness, of their inability to absolve one an- 
other from the slightest sin; and hence they felt a great 
mutual tenderness and commiseration. 

It was during this period of spiritual privation the sisters 
prepared to celebrate the approaching anniversary of their 
Mother's religious profession. A priest had written that 
it might be possible for him to come for that day, yet con- 
ditions made the time of arrival uncertain. The day 
dawned, but the hours passed in silent sameness a silence 
such as the sisters were to know later in Alaska when the 
sea and the river sleep for eight months in the arms of a 
field of ice. In Montana, however, instead of the cold and 
ice, the heat was intense. There was not a sound upon the 
river, not a cloud of dust upon the road. All that long, 
hot day not a drop of water had touched the Mother's 
parched lips. From early morning she had knelt upright, 
a seraph before the Tabernacle. The sisters were awed 
by an example such as one expects to find only in the lives 
of the saints. Finally, at four in the afternoon when all 
hope of the priest's coming had waned, the sisters lifted 
their Mother, more than led her, to her rest. And al- 
though she had to abandon the 'exquisite hope that a priest 
would come and give the silent Whiteness to her heart, yet 
she had had a great feast of love on that most sacred 

Mother Mary Amadeus's life was an eventful one, and 
from it, heroic and saintly beyond the power of description 
as it was, one may single out three scenes of great and 
graphic danger. Sister Angela Lincoln, one of Mother 
Mary Amadeus's faithful companions in Montana and 


Alaska, and cousin to the great martyred President of the 
American nation, writes the following: 

While traveling to and from the Crow Mission, 
Mother encountered three dangers so great that one 
alone 'would have sufficed to dampen courage less 
heroic. She had left St. Xavier's one day with her 
Ursuline companion, one of the Jesuit Fathers, an 
Indian boy and the driver, when suddenly one of 
Montana's blizzards set in and piled up before them 
massive and impenetrable walls of snow. It was im- 
possible to proceed with the heavy wagon. There was 
but one thing to do; unhitch the horses and send the 
Indian on to Fort Custer for help. Night came on, 
as it does in those blizzards, cold, early, dark and 
threatening; solitude and silence and the monster stars 
looking ominously down, with such shelter as the 
wagon and the snow wall could afford. To know 
Mother Amadeus you must have seen her in emergen- 
cies such as this : the bright eye, nay even the smile of 
confidence and the precise word of command that 
belong to magnetic genius. She spent the night rub- 
bing the hands and feet of her companions, cheering 
them to keep away the sleep of death, and walking up 
and down in the deep snow. She prayed, too, to 
Mary, Queen of the Ursulines, Our Lady of the Snow, 
whom we used to invoke even then, for Alaska was the 
goal of our ambition. Can any one count and meas- 
ure those endless hours? The Holy Angels alone, I 

The long night wore on and with the dawn came 
help from Fort Custer. All were lifted into the Gov- 
ernment ambulance and the penitential vigil was over. 
Our Lord watched and prayed upon the mountain ; and 
called the stars by name as they rose one by one over 
the verdant Carmel, the snow-capped Hermon, and 
the broad, rich plain of Esdrelon, to keep Him com- 
pany whilst He prayed. Perhaps our marvelous work 


was born during the night of Mother Amadeus' con- 
templation and suffering. Many religious orders have 
been founded during the vigils of the saints. 

When they reached Fort Custer, legs and arms 
frozen, the ladies tenderly lifted the Ursulines into 
baths of coal-oil and then into snowy beds where 
they were forced to remain three days before they 
recovered the use of frozen members. Then again 
Mother Amadeus was on her way. Another time 
she was going to St. Labre's to the Crows by the 
Custer trail over the Wolf Mountain. The driver was 
vaunting the prowess of his steed. Nunicaweo was in 
high spirits. He had found at last a person of his own 
undaunted spirit to labor for the Cheyennes. The 
horses, too, seemed in high spirits, for at the entrance 
of a wood they got beyond control and made for the 
edge of an impending precipice. Mother's unerring 
eye saw danger. Throwing ahead the basket of pro- 
visions she said: "Jump, Father," and out she went 
just in time to see the horses dash over the chasm, 
break the buggy into bits, and throw themselves to a 
bloody death. The missionaries were safe, but the 
Crow Mission was still very far away. The brave 
Mother unhesitatingly lifted the provision basket and 
with words of encouragement led the way through 
the woods. All night they walked weary and foot- 
sore over the crackling snow and yet her heart was 
ever light and joyful. 

As the dawn came creeping over the tree tops and 
they had reached the outskirts of the wood, other 
figures, too, gray and ghostly, crept on apace and pre- 
ceeded and accompanied by an ominous tramp and 
thud that indicated their numbers. The wolves, the 
hungry winter wolves! They had scented the trav- 
elers and their basket of provisions and they were fear- 
less. Already Mother could discern the keen, bright, 
pitiless eyes : She felt upon her face the angry breath 
of merciless hunger. She knelt down in the snow. 


extended her tired wonder-working arms in the form 
of a cross and began aloud : "Memorare piissima Virgo 
Maria non esse auditum." Already the thud had 
grown less distinct, and when Mother had finished 
her prayer, she looked up to see the gray cloud of 
affrighted monsters sweep around the mountain side. 
Is the age of miracles passed? 

Soon again the mighty, protecting arm of God was 
stretched out over Mother Amadeus' miraculous life. 
She had made her yearly visitation at St. Xavier's Mis- 
sion and had gone to St. Charles' Mission at the camp 
of Chief "Plenty Coos" (Many Scalps) on Pryor 
Creek. She was returning to Billings with her com- 
panions. The Jesuit Brother was following with a 
wagon-load of freight. The nuns were in a buggy 
that had been hired at a livery stable in Billings. The 
day was clear and very cold. It was the feast of St. 
Barbara in 1894. The nuns at St. Peter's noticed 
afterwards that at the very hour when their dear 
Mother was in danger so great, the Most Blessed Sac- 
rament was taking possession of her tiny cell, for the 
chapel was undergoing repairs and, out of reverence, 
the nuns had transferred her room into a chapel. 
Meanwhile the horses were straining their haunches 
and pulling lustily over the crisp soil. Blue Creek is 
an affluent of the Yellowstone. The driver thought 
he remembered the exact spot of the ford. As they 
drove along, a mile or so beyond the swollen, noisy 
torrent, Mother Amadeus noticed a cowboy camp, but 
she took little notice of a sight so common in Mon- 
tana. The detail, scarcely noted then, came back to 
her in the hour of danger. When they reached Blue 
Creek, it was swollen beyond record, and the driver 
was surprised not to see the Government sign mark- 
ing the site of the ford, but as he thought he remem- 
bered it, and that there certainly would be some warn- 
ing if the danger were what it seemed, he plunged 
fearlessly into the roaring stream. Scarcely had the 


horses pulled out from the shore than they stood trem- 
bling and snorting. The water had suddenly risen 
above the carriage wheels and reached the waists of 
the nuns. It was very cold. Huge blocks of ice were 
floating past and knocking so violently against the 
buggy that Mother feared that at any moment it 
might be overturned. Some invisible angel held the 
horses. One step and all had been plunged to certain 
death. They stood like steeds of stone, however, only 
now and again trembling and snorting as though to 
give warning of the danger. 

Mother Amadeus rose to the level of the dread 
surroundings. The driver had fainted; the nuns were 
calling: "O, Mother! save us, save us." "I will*' she 
replied and extending her brave arms in the form of 
a cross she promised to erect in our chapel a statue of 
the Sacred Heart of Jesus pleading. She then roused 
the driver, scolded him for his weakness in leaving 
them thus in danger, bade him climb carefully over 
the hind wheels of the buggy, wade to the shore, de- 
tach one of the horses from the wagon, and ride to the 
cowboy camp for help. This, the only hope of rescue, 
was the most difficult of execution, difficult and dan- 
gerous an imprudent move would upset the buggy, 
frighten the horses and dash all headlong into the 
frozen stream. Dispatch, too, was necessary, for the 
frozen waters were a menace to life. The noble ani- 
mals, however, as though conscious of responsibility, 
stood with almost human intelligence, motionless and 
firm in spite of the cold, in spite of the blocks of 
floating ice. The nuns instinctively clung to Mother 
as all instinctively pay homage to genius and virtue in 
the hour of danger. Three deadly quarters of an 
hour passed, interminable and full of anguish, but at 
length the help sent for arrived. The brave Montana 
men, as tender, as reverent, as unselfish as ever made 
a nation, climbed cautiously over the back wheels of 
the buggy and lifted the nuns one by one to safety. 


All wanted Mother to leave first. Not she! She 
used her authority to remain last in the frozen Char- 
ybdis. As the nuns stood upon the shore and watched 
her standing alone in the stream, they offered to God 
their lives in exchange for hers. At last she, too, was 
lifted gently to the shore. Then they all wept, and 
fell into one another's arms and intoned the Te 

"There is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is 
no counsel against the Lord." "Let us sing to the 
Lord, for He is gloriously magnified." 

Clouds of steam rose from their habits, as they 
stood dripping about the fire kindled on the shore. 
That night the men slept in the snow and the nuns 
slept in the cabin with the cowboys' loaded revolvers 
under their pillows. Mother had saved her chil- 

Mother Amadeus' religious daughters called her 
"Mother"; Montana called her "The Mother"; the 
Cheyennes said "Makemahehonawihona" ; the Black- 
feet "Ninaki"; the Assiniboines "Ethanshayai"; the 
Gros Ventre "Nagathay" ; the Kalispel and the Flat- 
heads "Komenskolinzuten" ; the Eskimos "Anayakach- 
pak" but all these words in the many languages 
meant the one sweet thing, "Mother." 

In 1900 circulars came from Leo XIII inviting all Ursu- 
lines to meet in Rome to elect for themselves a Superior 
General, and to unite under one head and recast their ven- 
erable constitutions in order to meet the exigencies of 
modern times. The Pope's least wish was law to Mother 
Mary Amadeus. She read in the annals of the old Order 
how all the great Ursulines of the past had desired the 
union, and so when Cardinal Vannutelli's letter came, the 
Ursulines of Montana, by the secret vote ordered, adhered 
unanimously to the proposed affiliation. October 25, 1890, 
Mother Mary Amadeus started for Rome with Sister 


Angela Lincoln and a little Flathead girl. On her way 
she said to her companions: 

We three are starting out alone into the unknown. 
We have no guide save the star of our obedience to 
Leo XIII. The three Kings going to the crib are 
our models and protectors. I have not heard of any 
other Ursulines heeding the summons, but even if I 
were sure that I were the only one to heed it, still 
would I go to Rome. 

On November i as they were sailing from New York, 
the great Passionist, Father Fidelis of the Cross, raised 
his hands and blessed them as they went Romeward. 

At the first general chapter of the order, Mother Mary 
Amadeus and Mother St. Julian, of Blois, both held the 
title of Superior General, and both headed the ranks in 
the chapter hall. Whenever the former rose to speak all 
listened with the greatest attention and respect. In Mother 
Amadeus the order saw exemplified the form it wished to 
assume, and she became a center, not only for America and 
the congregation of Paris, but for all. One of the old, 
experienced nuns remarked, "Mother Amadeus is gentle 
yes but I see great firmness, too, in the corners of her 

Sister Angela Lincoln writes as follows : 

Mother's piety and fervor in Rome were very re- 
markable. The day the Union was voted, November 
4, 1900, her face bore the expression of sublime purity 
and strength as she wrote with a smile that smile 
that means the love of God alone, a name that signed 
away her title of Superior General and placed her in 
the rank and file. I knelt beside her, my heart stood 
still, though I was accustomed to look upon her hero- 
ism and forgetfulness of self. A murmur of admira- 
tion and wonder broke from the assembly and Father 


Lemius said aloud: "Cest beau cela" "That is 

Mother presented her little Indian companion 
"Kolinzuten" to the Pope who blessed her and all 
our dear benefactors, and accepted for the Museum 
of the Vatican an Indian dress and war bonnet. Her 
artistic soul reveled in the splendors of Rome. She 
was absolutely lost in prayer at the tomb of the 
Apostles. She seemed to be lifted up when the Pope 
asked: "Who is the starry-eyed child, clad in buck- 
skin?" And when the little one died, we sent word to 
the Vatican and the great Leo himself spoke her 
panegyric: "I remember her well, the blessed little 

The General Chapter confirmed Mother Amadeus in 
her charge of the Montana missions, with the added title 
of Provincial. Before returning to Montana, she went 
with the first Superior General to the ancient fortress con- 
vent of Calai dell' Umbria, and that night lay awake listen- 
ing to the old monastery bells which were sounding to com- 
memorate the passage of the angels over Calai, carrying 
the Holy House to Loreto. At Naples she witnessed the 
liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius. So great was 
her outward fervor and reverence, that after the officiating 
priest had passed the crystal tube to all, he brought the 
relic back to Mother Amadeus who received it with the look 
of a surprised and delighted child. The priest permitted 
her to keep it twenty minutes in her arms, the martyr blood 
bubbling up against the heart of the virgin foundress. Was 
this grace given to prepare her for martyrdom? Probably 
so, for in Montana a cross was awaiting Mother Amadeus 
of the Heart of Jesus, one that she had asked of her Cruci- 
fied Savior but the nature of which she knew not until its 
shadow fell across her pathway. "Many pages of this 
story," says little Therese of Lisieux, "will never be read 


on earth. There are sufferings that are never to be dis- 
closed here below. Our Lord has jealously reserved to 
Himself the right to reveal their merit and glory, in the 
dear vision when all veils shall be removed." How ap- 
plicable is the truth to the life story of the foundress of 
the Ursulines of Montana. 

Mother Amadeus had scarcely returned to America 
when she was injured in a train collision and rendered a 
cripple for life. But her unselfishness, her cheerful 
acquiescence to God's will lasted, sunny and unbroken, even 
in this her greatest affliction. She kept repeating the words : 
"May the most high, the most just, the most holy will of 
God be done. May it be ever praised and glorified." 
When the crisis was over, she turned to the nuns and 
smiled. All Helena crowded to her bedside. She lay 
motionless for nine months, but always with a smile, 
a word of counsel and encouragement for every one. 
Once a bystander at her bed of suffering exclaimed in 
wonder and admiration: "O woman of immense sweet- 


Time passed and Mother Mary Amadeus was able to go 
about, although painfully and with difficulty, on her excur- 
sions of charity. For in spite of her physical infirmities she 
continued to live a life of incessant activity. It was at this 
period of her life that several of her important business 
trips to Rome took place. Once at the door of the Lateran, 
Cardinal Satolli, Protector of the Ursulines of Montana, 
who knew the foundress only through her works, greeted 
her with the words, "Mother Amadeus, have you a heart 
of gold?" Pius X, whom she often saw, said to her, 
"Mother, you and I both have a bastone"; and he loaded 
her with unusual blessings and privileges. Before return- 
ing to the United States, she visited the shrines of Our 
Lady of Good Counsel at Genezzano, Our Lady of 
Lourdes, at Lourdes, and those of Our Lady of Victory and 


the Sacred Heart, in Paris. Before meeting the Mother 
General at Havre, with whom she was to go to the United 
States, she went to Ireland, that blessed country where her 
father and mother were born. Everywhere in Ireland she 
was introduced by letters from Cardinal Logue, Arch- 
bishop of Armagh. The Carmelites and the Ursulines 
throughout the island received her with enthusiasm. Often 
she would stop on her way, now to pick a primrose for her 
dear nuns at home, or again to send a shamrock to another. 
Austerity and suffering never drove from her heart the 
entrancing delicacy of the Irish virgin. 

Refreshed by all these delightful sights and scenes, she 
returned to France to pilot the first Superior General of 
the Ursulines on her first visitation of the United States. 
At this time Mother Amadeus was formally installed first 
Provincial of the "North of the United States," with head- 
quarters at Middletown, New York, where on August 15 
of that year she opened the first general novitiate of the 
"Canonically United Ursulines." Then she accompanied 
the Mother General to Montana, where at St. Peter's both 
assisted at the election of Mother St. Francis, "the humble 
violet of the Rockies," as Mother Amadeus's successor in 
the local government of the missions. 

In 1905 Mother Mary Amadeus sent her first mission- 
aries to Alaska. At the time she was going about pain- 
fully with a cane and was passing one sleepless night after 
another, yet as soon as she was free to do so, she made 
ready to fly herself with the wings of love to that field of 
labor and privation. But in spite of all these plannings 
and sufferings she did not hesitate to answer another call 
that came to her in August, 1910, to attend the convocation 
of the third Chapter General of the canonically Ursuline 
Union, which was to be held in Rome. At this meeting 
she was appointed first Provincial of Alaska, with the com- 
mission to organize the great work in the Arctics. On Sep- 


tember 16 she left Rome, took ship that night, six days 
later met her companion in New York, then rushed off to 
Seattle, and on October 2 with the divine impatience of the 
saints steamed out from beneath the shadow of Mount 
Rainier with her companions for Nome. 

From the deck of the ocean liner as it sped northward 
she watched the sea gulls as they spread their lavender 
wings and circled over the vessel. As a girl she had loved 
the sea gulls above all other birds. And many a time she 
had turned her eyes from the plains of Montana to where 
she knew these graceful creatures of the air were resting 
on the desolate shores of Alaska, making them beautiful 
and peopling them with memories. And now she was 
going to that blessed land of sacrifice herself. She reached 
the end of her journey just as the shadows were creeping 
over the hillsides of Nome in a long Alaskan twilight. The 
day was waning and a great panoply of sunset was spread- 
ing across the gateway of the West. To the eastward she 
saw, however, a land cruel and ungracious to its inhabitants. 
But to her on that day, and ever afterward, it was a land of 
wonders, natural and supernatural, her promised land of 
ice and snow which she would claim for Him who had 
called her to His service 1 

Mother Amadeus did not remain long in Nome. She 
had heard that eighty miles away was King Island, nothing 
more than a rocky, storm-beaten cliff, whose dwellers climb 
up its rugged sides to what they call home, strange huts 
that cling to the rocks and are supported on stakes along 
the steep coast. But the natives love this eyrie thrown out 
into Bering Sea and share it with unnumbered -birds and 
Arctic storms. Mother Amadeus learned that so close to 
Heaven were these King Islanders, as it seemed, that they 
were thoroughly good and thoroughly Catholic, and were 
known as the "First Christians of Alaska." Although crip- 
pled as she was she finally won the bishop's consent to go to 


these Islanders. It was only when he told her that there 
was no resident priest on the island and that if she went 
she would have Mass and the sacraments but once a year 
that she desisted. For there was only one sacrifice that the 
valiant missionary would not make and would not ask her 
sisters to make, and that was deprivation of the Most 
Blessed Sacrament. But the fact that she wanted to go to 
this desolate Alaskan island shows better than any other 
incident in her life how much she loved God and souls to 
the total forgetfulness of everything else. She was forced 
to remain at St. Michael. 

Gaunt and ghoul-like, but with a weird fascination for the 
Russian adventurer, this little town of St. Michael is built 
of spruce logs from the Yukon. Above are the silver stars, 
the loud shrieking aurora, the stately mount of the same 
name as the village in all its serenity of ice and snow. 
Many distinguished travelers have passed this way and 
vanished, and very few points on earth have been more 
eagerly sought and sighed after, for St. Michael is the 
seaport of the Bering, the link between beckoning wealth 
and old home loves and longings. Upon the beach lie 
fastened in ice during eight months of the year the river 
boats that have carried much of the world's wealth and 
hope of wealth. The Catholic Church stands out upon the 
hill with the Eskimo village "Dajek" at its feet. The bury- 
ing ground of the Eskimos is there and the God's Acre 
behind the church where lie two great Jesuits, Father 
Camille and Brother Paquin. And there in the tiny Ursu- 
line convent the great Mother Amadeus spent one of the 
most fruitful years of her most fruitful life. The Eskimos 
crowded about her from their three adjacent villages, 
Dajek, Longsite, and Stebbins. They felt that an untold 
grace and blessing had come to the island when she built for 
them there "St. Ursula's by the Sea." Of these first blessed 
days Sister Angela Lincoln writes : 


The hand of God made it still more beautiful on 
our first Christmas night. We were just returning 
from midnight Mass when Mother whispered to me : 
"Look." I rested my eyes and beheld the Aurora in 
incandescent splendor. The dancing lights had gath- 
ered into one broad semi-circle of gold encircling our 
tiny cabin. We stood in the center of all this celestial 
splendor as though God had said: "Look, look at the 
Beloved of my Heart, who has left all to follow Me in 
labor and solitude and privation." 

All St. Michael gathered about the saintly Mother 
Amadeus. The winter broke intensely cold and 
stormy. The anemometer was running ninety miles 
an hour at the wireless station when it was smashed 
and no further record could be kept. The furious 
wind that had smashed it also tore off the tar paper 
from our tiny cabin that stood out upon the bluff 
behind the Church, and the green lumber boards on 
those dreadful nights when our poor walls seemed the 
strings of some wild JEohzn harp upon which the winds 
kept singing their weird melodies. Often during that 
first winter we lay awake begging God to save us, for 
we feared our cabin would be dashed into the Bering 
Sea as other cabins were. Mother had chosen the 
coldest corner of the dormitory for herself and one 
of her feet was frozen. 

At this time Mother Amadeus felt keenly the death of a 
Jesuit brother whose kindness to the sisters the blessed 
foundress remembered to the close of her life. Brother 
Paquin had come to St. Michael just three days before the 
sisters, and had served them graciously and generously in 
those first days of suffering and heroic sacrifice. In his 
novitiate days he had prayed for the grace of martyrdom; 
he had been the first to discover the remains of Father 
Arnault, the martyr; he had distinguished himself from the 
first day of his religious life by his energy and his fervor. 


Mother Amadeus herself thus recounts the story in a letter 
written on March 4, 1911, from "St. Ursula's by the Sea": 

On the morning of January 27th Eefore the storm 
had begun at St. Michael, Brother Ulrich Paquin, 
S J., started out with a sled, five dogs and a light load 
of lumber. He .was going to Stebbins, a village ^ten 
miles off where he was building a chapel for the natives 

Brother Paquin had often traveled the road before, 
and on this fair morning he started out in reindeer 
"parkee" and "mucklucks" garments worn by all in 
this northern latitude but without "sleeping bag" or 
blankets. No one could suspect that this was to be 
his last journey. 

Out upon the tundra, the wind blew a gale at the 
rate of ninety miles an hour, and the snow sizzed so 
madly about that when within two miles of his destina- 
tion, the young Jesuit lost his bearings and began his 
last dread battle. 

He unloaded his lumber and went on a few feet to 
the brow of the hill, he thought toward, but in reality 
away from, the Innuit village. Not seeing it, casting 
about in vain, buffeted by the sharp, cold wind, be- 
wildered in the pathless snow, beguiled at length by 
the treacherous Arctic sleep, he lay him down upon 
his sled like a "warrior taking his rest, with his mar- 
tial cloak about him." Consternation and sorrow 
reigned here when he did not return, and a diligent 
search was instituted for the missing brother. 

The Eskimos risked their lives in the fearful storm 
to save him, but it was decreed otherwise, and for a 
week the winds piled up the snowdrifts and kept their 

We still had some lingering hope, for the dogs had 
not come back, and these Eskimo dogs always gnaw 
away the harness and come back to give the clue. 
Wild, voracious, they fall upon and tear one another 


to pieces as soon as the guiding hand is stilled. This 
we knew; therefore we hoped that the brother was 
awaiting in some village the cessation of the storm. 
At length, just one week later, the sun came out for a 
few hours, and two Catholic Indians found the holy 
corpse sleeping on the hill side. Peter, from Steb- 
bins, the strongest man on the .island, lifted it upon 
his back and started for St. Michael's, but he had 
scarcely gone two miles when he was met by the gov- 
ernment team of eleven dogs, which Captain H. F. 
Dalton, U. S. A., commanding officer of Ft. St. 
Michael, had sent to the rescue with his best "musher" 
musher is a Canadian word, corrupted from "Mar- 
chons," "let us go" and is used in Eskimo to desig- 
nate the driver of a dog team. The five skeleton dogs 
followed, howling their Mahlamute dirge, and thus 
the weird funeral procession brought the Jesuit back 
to the church, toward three o'clock in the afternoon, 
with Peter the "Christopher/ 1 

Had the fierce dogs, despite their long fast, the 
bitter cold, the wild storm, kept guard all the snowy 
week without food or shelter held by the frozen 
hand, the silent lips, the drooping eye ? All St. Michael 
mourned and wondered. It is unwritten in Mahla- 
mute record that famished dogs ever respect a corpse, 
but we do read in saints' lore of the power of sanc- 
tity over the brutal creation. 

At all events, what was mortal of Ulrich Paquin, 
S.J., was brought back unmutilated, untouched, and 
lay frozen to adamant in the church, keeping his "vigil 
of arms" in the beautiful attitude of the dying St. 
Stanislaus at St. Andrea del Quirinale in Rome. The 
same smile was upon the marble lips the presence of 
God and trust in Him written in stone upon the young 
and open brow, the rosary frozen upon his "parkee" 
somewhere near his lips, as though his last conscious 
act in the bewildering storm had been to press it 
reverently. "Now and at the hour of our death." 


And the lady "Ad Nives" must have stood beside him 
in his agony. For God keeps His own and His 
mighty arm soon snatched the young religious from 
the relentless Arctic storm, and laid him down to sleep 
whilst his Virgin Mother stood beside him. That 
night an Eskimo boy nailed the rude coffin, and we sat 
up to line and cover it, and the next morning we sang 
the Requiem Mass. But the furious winds had arisen 
in the meantime and kept the body with us four days 
longer, when another lull and another bit of sunshine 
allowed the father to lay him away in the frozen God's 
Acre, where, in adamantine incorruption, he awaits 
the summoning blast to the last great meeting. St. 
Michael is an iceberg. 

Brother Ulrich Paquin, S.J., had been eleven years 
in the Order. Born of a very good family of St. 
Didau, Province of Quebec, Canada, he was full of 
vigor, activity, energy, kindness. His spirit still lin- 
gers about our little chapel where he served Mass with 
angelic modesty and devotion. He is the first mem- 
ber of the great Order to meet with a' violent death in 
Alaska, and St. Michael venerated him for his fidelity 
to duty. Ah, it is a strange land, wild and weird, this 
frozen north, and God is ever teaching mighty lessons. 

Again the funeral bell tolled from the little steeple, 
and Captain Dalton, U. S. A., was brought within 
the compass of the church's soothing "requiems." 

An Ursuline played the strains of Beethoven's 
pathetic march, as Captain Dalton, U. S. A., all the 
officers, and companies M and D of the i6th Infantry, 
filed into the little white and blue church and took 
their seats upon the benches beside the man who lay 
asleep in the flag. 

And how fit it seemed that those brave men, and 
the noblest flag the winds of the earth do know, should 
rest awhile in the arms of the Catholic Church, the 
house of the old God that dieth not, the mother of all 
things splendid and beautiful. United States soldiers 


listened reverently to the Subvenlte, the Libera, 
the In Paradisum, the time-honored Gregorian that 
has laid the world's noblest spirits to rest; and then 
filed through the church doors that opened wide upon 
the frozen Bering. 

Captain Dalton paused for the last time on the 
threshold he loved so well. Before him lay the beauti- 
ful curve of St. Michael's shore, irridescent in win- 
ter's magnificence, and beyond the sea that cut him off 
from all that he had loved in life. At a given signal 
the firing squad of sixteen men, eight from each com- 
pany, fired a volley over the corpse into the sea. 
Again I hark I again I Then rang out the taps clear 
and solemn for the last time for the Catholic soldier, 
and the funeral line marched on over the snow back 
to Fort St. Michael. 

And as the regular thud, thud and tramp fell upon 
our ears, another funeral procession, hastily gathered 
together and headed by Rev. J. Chapdelaine, S.J., 
and the cross bearer, hurried off to the little God's 
Acre, where Brother Paquin lay awaiting them. A 
poor, consumptive Indian boy, whom he and the Father 
had nursed with angelic patience and charity, and to 
whom the latter had brought Holy Communion 'every 
day since Christmas we had sung the Dies Irae in 
the morning followed by his sorrowing- mother, was 
carried away to burial, and St. Michael's air was 
vocal again with God's mysterious mighty lessons. 
Two funeral processions together the soldiers with 
all the pomp and ceremony that the flag doth lend, 
and the poor Indian a staggering, wailing line lifted 
up by the emblems of the Divine both diverging 
from the one focus to different points, and each speak- 
ing its message to desolate St. Michael's. 

But there is a bright side to the picture. Our little 
children, who manifest such great delight in coming 
to the convent to be taught. Already have they 
learned the Missa de Angelis, which they are to sing 


on St. Joseph's day. They do so with sweet sim- 
plicity and devotion, and I sometimes think that our 
Holy Father would be pleased to catch the strains of 
their obedience here at the Antipodes. Their greatest 
punishment would be not to be taught, and their sweet 
innocence is the delight and consolation of our present 
life. Wondrously weather-wise and cunning to fight 
the elements are they, with senses and instincts keenly 
developed. They come in furs and leggins made of 
the fore-leg of the reindeer, all quite impervious to 
wind and cold. They loiter about in the snow and 
stand gazing at the frozen sea with the delight with 
which our boys and girls at home stretch themselves 
out beneath the apple trees. But there are no snow- 
balls here, for the snow is too fine, too dry, and all 
is meditative and silent. 

The wind alone has a voice as it rocks the little 

Coal is twenty-five dollars undelivered and thirty 
dollars when brought by the only horse on the island 
and the cold is relentless for eight months of the year. 

So, dear friends, we thank you for remembering 
us and our children, and beg you still to do so in the 
golden charity of your hearts; and not mightier are 
these words than is the voice of our gratitude ascend- 
ing in prayer from our hearts to where are Peace 
and Love. 

We do thank you who have remembered us, and 
beg your dear hands to lend themselves now to the 
completion of our cabin before another dread winter 
sets in, for we have to go about sweeping out the snow 
and catching the dripping water while stiff breezes 
and joint benumbing cold come in through the rifts 
of this poor little hut. 

You may think of us beginning our daily toils many 
hours before the dawn, for the winter sun arises at 
10 A.M. and sets at 2 P.M., beginning then with prayer 
for you in our chapel where we have daily Mass and 


Holy Communion. It is truly wonderful that you can 
reach us where we are locked in by snow and ice. Com- 
forting that we can reach and help you in the dear 
Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Our mail is necessarily slow, so great are the dis- 
tance and the difficulties, and it has been calculated that 
a letter which costs you two cents to send costs Uncle 
Sam one dollar to deliver. Navigation is closer and 
the dogs cannot carry heavy loads, so each point of the 
trail has a certain percentage of mail apportioned to 
it according to the population. For which reason St. 
Michael gets but little. Moreover, the selection is 
arbitrary, and of two letters leaving the States together 
one might go through in fifty days, and the other lie 
over until the next delivery. Then, too, the trail 
softens and becomes impassable before the ice goes 
out on sea and river, and when this happens letters are 
arrested at St. Michael's and Nome, the northern and 
Valdez and Cordova, the southern termini, and kept 
over for the first north-bound steamer, which cannot 
get in till the middle of June at the earliest. So there 
must necessarily come a lull, but all is safe and we shall 
unfailingly write whenever we hear from you. Let us 
send to each one our thanks in advance. Breathing 
the blessing of the old Gael, "May thy open hand be 
filled the fullest," I am, 

In great and sincere gratitude, 

Superior of the Ursulines of Alaska. 

"St. Ursula's-by-the-Sea" commanded a splendid view of 
the Bering at the point where St. Michael's Bay merges into 
Norton Sound. The Ursulines were the first to see the 
boats as they came in, the last to see them as they departed. 
In August of the same year that had witnessed the death 
of Brother Paquin the mission boat, the St. Joseph, manned 
by the Jesuits and their helpers, came to meet the first 


ocean steamer at St. Michael. The St. Joseph brought 
Bishop Crimont, Fathers Lucchesi, Peron, and Treca with 
Mother Laurentia and one of the Eskimo girls from St. 
Mary's Mission to St. Ursula's-by-the-Sea. The Jesuits 
wept when they saw the state of the sisters' cabin and they 
determined to make it safe against another winter. They 
sent to Nome for the carpenter brother that he might do 
the work; but, in the meantime, Father Treca, who was to 
play so important a part in the lives of the sisters, urged 
that all the sisters go up and spend the winter at Akulurak. 
The eloquence of his life, more than his words, prevailed. 
Hastily the sisters packed in bags their few belongings and 
left on the St. Joseph. The little floating convent broke 
from its moorings on August 13. Mother Mary Amadeus 
was unspeakably happy, happy at the thought of daily 
Masses on the boat, happy at the thought of seeing her 
first Alaskan missionaries at far-away Akulurak. 

On August 15, at one in the morning, the sisters arrived 
at St. Mary's Mission. At Nunapikluga, Father Treca 
had baptized a boy, naming him Amadeus, after the saintly 
guest of the boat. The St. Joseph had cast anchor the 
night before that the crew might sleep, and so the sisters 
went up the Akulurak River, a tortuous stream that emp- 
ties into one of the arms of the Yukon Delta. Never had 
a white woman set foot in the labyrinth before the arrival 
of the Ursulines whom Mother Amadeus had sent to the 
natives six years before. At the forty-eighth bend of the 
stream the sisters came upon St. Mary's Mission, "the end 
of the world," as it was called by Mother Amadeus, whose 
arrival was the cause of the greatest joy to nuns, children, 
and Innuits. Here she remained in peace from August 15, 
1911, to June 10, 1912. She said to the children one day: 
"Dear children, I wish I had been born here that I might 
stay with you always." These words went up and down 
the river, until all the Eskimos had come in turn, saying 


to the fathers: "Show me the Mother that loves the In- 
nuits." It was the end of the world, indeed, for Mother 
Amadeus was living in heaven. Everything was done to 
make her stay a pleasant one, at this poorest Ursuline mis- 
sion of the world. Later she said that this was the happiest 
year of her long missionary life. 

On the night of November 25, the nuns had just assem- 
bled in the refectory for supper when a knock was heard 
at the door. It was the feast of the second patroness of 
their order, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the snow was 
deep, the cold bitter. A messenger from St. Michael 
stood there with his dogs and sled. He brought a dispatch 
from Father Crimont to Mother Amadeus, telling her to 
return to Valdez as soon as possible. "Soon as possible" 
proved to be the following June 10, for the river was solid 
ice from St. Ursula's day to St. Angela's. With her Ursu- 
line companion, an Eskimo girl, the engineer brother and 
Father Treca, who said Mass for the travelers every day, 
Mother Amadeus reached at last Nunapikluga just as the 
midnight sun emerged from its feint of descent below the 
horizon. Here she waited for the river boat to take her to 
St. Michael. 

Nunapikluga was only a flagging station then, and here 
one of the Eskimo boys sat night and day on the roof of the 
house to hail the big boat lest it might slip down the river 
unawares. Though the privations the sisters suffered dur- 
ing this week were very great, yet the time of waiting was 
one of spiritual delights. The people poured into the 
schoolhouse and begged Mother Amadeus to stay with 
them to teach their little ones. But the bishop's call was 
sounding in her ears and finally the river boat bound for 
St. Michael and the ocean steamer to the "outside" came 
for the missionaries. In order to go to Valdez, Mother 
Amadeus was obliged to return to Seattle, and there take 
ship for southwestern Alaska. There is no other way 


of communication in the monster land. The day that the 
boat appeared upon the horizon the Eskimo boy rushed 
into the schoolhouse to tell the sisters of his discovery. The 
nuns had but time to gather together their few belongings 
and Mother Amadeus her cane, her lifelong cross. As the 
sisters looked back at the shore and saw the saintly Jesuit 
standing amid the poor, it seemed to them a picture of 
Christ, the Lord, in His Jerusalem, while they were Baby- 
lon in the Kingdom of the world. 

Mother Amadeus reached St. Michael just in time to 
make the Umatilla that was steaming for the "outside." In 
Seattle she caught the Alameda on the Feast of Our Lady 
of Mt. Carmel, after assisting at Mass in the chapel of the 
Carmelites and after obtaining their prayers and their 
promise that they would spiritually adopt the foundation 
of Valdez. On the Alameda Mother Amadeus again be- 
came the center of attraction. At the table one day the 
waiter brought her a gift for the mission with the follow- 
ing note from a stranger who was a Protestant: "To the 
Reverend Mother, the lady whose smile is a benediction, 
whose benign face mirrors the eternal spirit of the living 

On this journey, one of the last that Mother Amadeus 
ever made, the nuns sailed through some of the world's 
most exquisite scenery the "Wrangell Narrows" like the 
fiords of Norway, threading in and out of pine-girt cliffs; 
Seymour Narrows with the treacherous "Ripple Rock"; 
the Siren Acculta, who, the natives say, sings ruin and 
destruction there; the village of the dead with its mute 
totem poles that the living have abandoned; Cape St. Elias 
and Mt. Fairweather in their silent sublimity; the snow- 
clad Malaspina; and the wonderful Valdez Narrows, with 
the snow-clads dropping sheer into the deep blue bay. All 
these marvels Mother Amadeus's soul delighted in as she 
sped on to that cherished spot at Valdez where in a frame 


convent surrounded by lofty and beautiful trees, she founded 
her second Alaskan convent. When Bishop Crimont met 
her upon her arrival, he exclaimed: "Already!" He had 
called on November 25 and this was July 22. But as a 
true Alaskan he knew that the long journey had been indeed 
a feat even for Mother Amadeus. 

And now it was that Mother Amadeus felt that the 
time had come for the fulfillment of her heart's desire 
the opening of an Ursuline novitiate for Alaska. And this, 
amid untold difficulties, she did in Seattle. The means had 
been furnished her by none other than her great friend, 
Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan, of Virginia. 

From Seattle Mother Amadeus made several trips back 
and forth to Northern Alaska. In 1915 she had gone up 
a guest of the S. S, Senator to visit her nuns at Akulurak 
and on July 25, 1917, she witnessed in the Seattle cathedral 
the consecration of her friend of many years, the Right 
Reverend J. R. Crimont, S.J., as first Bishop of Alaska. 
Some time later her nuns at Akulurak wrote to Mother 
Amadeus that they must see her, and no word of her other 
daughters could dissuade her from going. Added to this 
appeal that had come from her sisters there was the pros- 
pect of a new mission foundation, for the Sisters of Provi- 
dence had left Nome and the bishop wanted nuns for 
"Mary's Igloo," ninety miles north of that place. And so 
she prepared for another tedious journey. She was smiling 
when her sisters lifted her from her tiny cell in the Seattle 
convent to the Victoria where the captain greeted her as 
the "riches of the ship." Bishop Crimont was on board, 
and this gave her great consolation. But in spite of all that 
the nuns could do for her, and all vied generously in doing 
it, Mother Amadeus was very ill. It seemed more like a 
funeral procession than a voyage of the living. The pas- 
sage was a stormy one, but every day that the bishop was 
able to do so he came into the nuns' cabin and with them 


recited the office of the Blessed Virgin. Both he and the 
sisters begged Mother Amadeus to remain on the Vic- 
toria and go back to Valdez where she could have more 
care. The sainted foundress, however, had set her face 
to Akulurak as Our Lord's was to His passion in Jerusa- 
lem. St. Ignatius day dawned and she sent word to Bishop 
Crimont that she could not live another day without Holy 
Communion. It had been too stormy to say Mass and 
the bishop himself had been ill; moreover, his cabin was so 
small, so poor that it would not admit of the sisters' enter- 
ing. But after he had finished Mass that day, he brought 
the Ciborium into Mother Amadeus's cabin. Rays of 
celestial splendor illumined the face of the dying saint, and 
Christ lavished upon her marks of ineffable tenderness. 

After a few days' rest at St. Michael's Mother Amadeus 
went on the St. Joseph, the mission boat, now the Amadeus, 
to comfort her children at Akulurak. When her visit there 
had filled all hearts with peace and joy, she journeyed back 
toward St. Michael's, stopping at Holy Cross, the mission 
founded by the Sisters of St. Ann on the Yukon, where 
she was treated with all the royalty of sisterly charity. 
Back at St. Michael's she settled down with unspeakable 
joy in the smallest home she had ever known, her own 
beloved "St. Ursula's-by-the-Sea." This convent was rich 
with memories of the benefactors who had made it hab- 
itable. The chapel was so beautiful that the bishop 
called it "My little cathedral." The altar nestled in an 
alcove built for it by the Eskimos and upon the Thabor 
there sparkled on exposition days the Ostensorium sent by 
the Ursulines of Cleveland and before which the little 
Sarah Theresa Dunne had prayed so fervently in her child- 
hood. The nave of the chapel was large enough, the parlor 
doors being thrown open, to accommodate St. Michael's 
congregation during the winter months. Mother Amadeus, 
now in her chair, now from her bed, kept her eyes always 


on the most Blessed Sacrament. She seemed to improve 
in the busy peace of "Home Sweet Home," for the Eski- 
mos crowded about her, as the queen, and the white settlers 
paid her the homage of their kindriess and respect. 

On the Feast of St. Jude, October 28, Mother Amadeus 
fell from her chair and some time later was found stretched 
in great pain upon the floor. It was the first sound of the 
death knell ringing clear and sharp from Heaven. The 
blessed foundress never walked again, and the doctor whis- 
pered to her nurse as he left the room: "Sister, it is the 
beginning of the end. You must take Mother to Seattle 
by the last boat that leaves in a few days." 

But the great apostle wanted to die in the missions and 
her daughters yielded to her saintliness and the strength of 
her will. She grew more joyous, more energetic, always 
planning and working from her bed, talking about the new 
mission she had come to open on the Kruzgamipa River, 
ninety miles north of Nome. Trunks were filled with 
things her memory recalled in the rooms she had not seen 
for years. Her sisters were happy in spite of the shadow 
looming dark and ominous. Sister Angela alone is able 
to tell the following story of patient suffering and heroic 
sacrifice : 

I noticed an unwonted light in our Mother's eyes, 
something like a twinkle in the eyes of a child who 
knows a joyous secret. But my great reverence for 
her silenced the question that kept rising to my lips. 
Next morning after Mother had received Holy Com- 
munion and taken her breakfast, she said with a smile 
and the old ringing laugh of long ago : "Sister, pre- 
pare the room, and when it is ready, call Father Ro- 
baut. He has promised to anoint me today." 

Death in my heart,, joy in hers I All the flowers we 
had artificial ones of course, our dear benefactors 
had sent us many were placed about, and many can- 


dies lighted in the little cell. The life of St. Angelo 
in pictures \ve hung about the bed, and Carpaccio's St. 
Ursula, and when I thought all was ready, Mother 
said: "Place over me the beautiful lace Mrs. Ryan 
gave me, and lay upon the Altar the pall Mother 
Blessed Sacrament embroidered for my Golden Jubi- 
lee." Mother looked like a young bride. She was 
joyous, buoyant and exceedingly beautiful. It seemed 
more like a First Communion day than a room gotten 
ready for Extreme Unction. "Now, Sister, call 
Father Robaut." He came, this the first Jesuit ever 
to set his foot in Alaska, the companion of the martyr 
Archbishop Seghers, and with him came also the Very 
Rev. J. B. Sifton, Superior of the Jesuits in Northern 
Alaska. And the most beautiful rite of the Church 
unfolded before us. Per is tarn sanetam Unctionem, 
and the child in Mother's eyes had crowded out the 
queen. She answered every prayer, followed with 
exuberant joy every move, so that when he came to 
anoint them, those blessed eyes of purity,. Father 
Robaut was obliged to whisper: "Close your eyes." 
Ah, the saints, the saints I And why should they not 
be winning who live in perpetual union with our 

That day, the first Friday in December, we kept as 
a first-class feast, at the Ursuline Convent fartherest 
north in the whole world. The nuns kept swallowing 
the lump, that Mother's joy might not be overcast. 

And from that day forward, the shadow of things 
human rested not upon Mother Amadeus of the Heart 
of Jesus. She bade farewell to earth, and thought 
only of heaven. 

The feast of the Immaculate Conception fell on 
Sunday. It had always been a day of special grace 
for Mother, all through her sinless life. Masses were 
celebrated in our chapel, as the church could not be 
heated because of the intense cold. Many of our 
people came to Holy Communion, and Mother had 
them served breakfast in our tiny kitchen. Among 


them came, toward the end, a poor erring one who had 
strayed far from the banquet of the angels. She 
rushed in, saying: kl l must see the Father." Long 
was her confession, and she, too, tasted of the sweet- 
ness of the King. 

Our people have many of the instincts of childhood 
and of nature. Something special attracted them to 
Mother and to the Convent on that day. The door 
of her room faced the altar; it had been thrown open, 
and she had assisted at Mass from her bed. At 
benediction, the children had sung all her favorite 
hymns, and our boy Francis had accompanied them 
on his violin. 

Before leaving, all crowded about Mother's bed. 
Each must have some word, some special sign of 

And when all was over, the huge snowdrifts locked 
our doors and cloistered us with our happiness, with 
Our Lord in the sweetest solitude we had ever known. 
No one came. No one could come that day. We 
were so happy together. It seems, in the retrospect, 
that we might have guessed it was our last day at St. 

The next morning early we were affrighted by dense 
clouds of smoke. We had but time to lift our precious 
invalid out into the intense cold it was 40 below 
zero, and to call the Father to save the Most Blessed 

In twenty minutes St. Ursula's-by-the-Sea was a 
heap of ashes, for there is no water in Northern 
Alaskan eight months of the year, and snow and ice 
are of no avail in case of fire. All our treasures went. 
Our Lord was telling His Spouse that He was hence- 
forth her sole possession. 

We hurried her into shelter, and sent for Dr. Love. 
Mother was bearing up so bravely. When he came she 
said to him in her own dear way, "Well, Doctor, the 
Lord gave; the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be 
the name of the Lord I" 


And whilst the woof of great sorrow was weaving into 
the web of mission life, and the birds were coming north 
and the snow was vanishing, Mother Amadeus left Alaska 
never to return. In Seattle she fell into the mysterious 
silence of Gethsemane, a silence not unlike the one that had 
immediately followed her profession into the Order long 
years before. It was not the silence, this, of impotence, 
but rather that of the queenly will, plighted for so many 
years to penance and to selflessness. Her room was next 
to the chapel, so that her last days on earth were passed 
in the uninterrupted presence of the Blessed Sacrament. So 
conscious was she of this great privilege that she refused 
to spend much of the night in sleeping; her nuns would find 
her lying with eyes wide open, smiling in the darkness as 
she faced the Tabernacle, her lips moving in constant 
prayer. Shortly before her death she raised her eyes to- 
ward heaven, and in them shone the light of Tabor, while 
over her countenance spread a smile of triumph, joy, and 
recognition. In her last moments Mother Amadeus must 
have seen something beloved and beautiful. 

When all was over, the nuns lifted their Mother dn a 
cross of ashes. Then they intoned the De Profundis 
and, as she had taught them for hours of sorrow, the 
Te Deum. Later they conveyed the remains to St. Ig- 
natius, the Montana mission she had loved so well, where 
the Cheyennes had prepared for her a final resting place. 
Here at the foot of a great mission cross, in the shadow of 
the Rockies rugged, majestic, and as heaven-reaching as 
her life they laid a woman whom they still honor as one 
of the great heroes of their race. 

Mother Amadeus of the Heart of Jesus was a great 
American foundress in the fullest sense of this expression. 
Perhaps none ever struggled with greater difficulties in a 
soil so cruel, so barren as Alaska, and in what was then the 
almost desert of Montana when she came to it. But her 


striking personality, her buoyant and joyous union with 
God, were as a bright light that shone before her feet and 
frightened away all darkness and desolation. Indeed, ob- 
stacles seemed to flee before her. Characters the most 
widely different yielded to her magnetism and all joined 
hands and hearts to forge ahead through poverty and isola- 
tion and bitter want. She had Indian children from twelve 
different tribes laden beneath centuries of idolatry, preju- 
dice, and ignorance, and yet all that melted away before her 
wonderful smile. Penance, worry, mortification, anxiety 
for her sisters, peace, joy, abundance for her children 
that was Mother Amadeus of the Heart of Jesus. There 
was much of the great Carmelite about her, for there was 
combined in her Teresa of Avila's zeal for souls and the 
great love that the Little Flower of Jesus had for the mis- 
sions. And, too, there is something of the Stylites about 
her, as she stands before the world in giant forgetfulness 
of self, lifted high into God-all-aloneness, and yet drawing 
souls sunk deep in ignorance and degradation. The great 
Indian missionary, Father Cataldo, the Jesuit, with a heart 
that was still youthful and vigorous despite his ninety years, 
said of Her: "The success of our missions was due to the 
untold generosity of the noble-hearted Mother Amadeus." 
Si Monumentum quaeris, circumspice. We have but to 
look at her and wonder that woman could attain so great 
a height. The most striking evidence of the success of her 
work may be seen everywhere among the Indians of Mon- 
tana and the Arctics. To-day scarcely a watchful red 
light, casting its gleam of hope and joy on the snows of 
Alaska, but whispers the name of her who is now called the 
"Teresa of the Arctics." Indeed, her life is a monument, 
a lofty monument, to Ursuline and to womanly excellence, 
to religious perfection and to missionary zeal. 



NEW ENGLAND meadows crowned with gentle hillsides, 
hillsides bathed in May-time glory; crocus, daffodils, and 
wild arbutus; clover, laurel, and rose blooms myriad; and 
overhead the canopy of heaven, cloudless, blue, and opal- 
silver this was Rosebud's garden her first birthday. 

Yes, "Rosebud" they called her, the last child to come 
to the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia 
Peabody. This was in 1851, in Our Lady's month for 
May is always such, the wide world over, even near Lenox 
where the Hawthornes were living. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote to a lifelong comrade, on 
July 24, 1851: 

The most important news I have to tell you (if you 
have not already heard it) is, that we have another 
daughter, now almost two months old. She is a very 
bright and healthy child, and neither more nor less 
handsome than babies generally are. 1 think I feel 
more interest in her than I did in the other children 
at the same age, from the consideration that she is to 
be the daughter of my age the comfort ( at least, so it 
is to be hoped) of my declining years. 

In her mother's letters the little Rose appears as the 
very personification of happy babyhood and childhood. 
Her smile was likened to "a constellation of stars"; and 
she would sleep "to the music of pine tree murmurs and 
cricket-chirpings, and once in a while of birds/' At night 



she was always with the angels for she believed that the 
angels took her when she went to sleep, and brought her 
back when sky and earth bloomed russet-red in the east. 
She loved the dawn. 

There is a distinct fascination in these letters, written 
by "little Rosebud's" mother, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, 
and which the daughter published in book form as Memo- 
ries of Hawthorne some twenty-odd years after her mother's 
death. So profound in thought and loveliness, they picture 
simply a circle of life that embraced much beauty, and 
which made its impress on the baby of the household never 
to be effaced. It is from these letters of the mother that 
one may arrive at some knowledge of the daughter. Yet 
of Rosebud herself there is very little direct information. 
Occasionally, in this garden of Hawthorne memories, 
there is found a rose-red petal, whose fragrance is not 
lost among the leaves and tall grasses; it fills the garden and 
flows refreshingly beyond it. It comes from the fairest 
rose of all the Hawthornes. 

In his "Prelude" to this collection of letters, Maurice 
Francis Egan says: 

It is interesting to note the culmination of that 
idealism which set her father, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 
apart from the rest of the world, and caused him to 
lead a constant interior life in this woman who has 
lost all thought of self in her devotion to the poor 
the utterly poor who suffer from cancer. 

The Hawthornes, as a family, have never lost that 
evanescent charm, that elusive flash of the Gleam 
which sets them apart from the rest of the world; and 
the head of the family was the first psychological 
novelist of our time, the most sympathetic and noble of 
interpreters of human character, made in the likeness 
of (iod. The greatest modern master of English 
style, with the exception of Newman, Walter Pater, 


and Stevenson, he is a figure whose attraction for us 
grows year by year. It is hard for the ordinary reader 
to pluck out the heart of his mystery, to explain his 
appearance in that garishly lit New England in which 
there seemed to be, for those who saw it from the 
distance, only bright sunlight or dismal shadows, un- 
softened by u purple mists." It is a platitude to say 
that Hawthorne waved his wand his magic wand 
and gave to his part of New England a new atmos- 
phere of softness and grace and mystic shades of se- 
crets half unspoken. 

A quarter of a century has passed since his daughter 
Rose, the youngest of his children, unveiled some of 
his sources of the beauty of his life by printing the 
letters of her mother, Sophia Hawthorne, born in 
that exquisite circle which included the Peabodys, 
the Emersons, the Prescotts, the Alcotts of Thoreau, 
of Ripley, of Holmes, and of all that small society 
which might easily be called Athenian for lack of a 
better word. Here are found all the requirements of 
the simple life. Sophia Hawthorne was a lover of 
beauty, and nowhere, in any language, can one find 
more entrancing pictures of the little things which 
nature offers us every day. Flowers captured her. In 
England, so precious did she find them that she be- 
comes rapturous over nine moss-rose buds, given her 
by a friend nine moss-rose buds, all together! And, 
while fully conscious of the infinite value of the expand- 
ing souls of her little children, she makes us feel that 
to her they are the most wonderful of flowers. Al- 
though the beauty of life was a cult with her, there 
was nothing pagan about her and nothing Puritan. 

It has been an interesting problem for the Peabodys to 
entice the reticent Hawthornes into the former's genial 
and vivid existence. 

Literature, art, and intercourse [says Rose Haw- 
thorne] were the three gracious deities of the Peabody 


home, and many people came to join the family in 
worshiping them; none were more sought after or 
welcome than the Hawthornes mother, daughter, 
and the young Nathaniel! At the Hawthornes on the 
contrary [continues Rose] quiet prevailed: caused 
partly by bereavement, partly by proud poverty, and 
no doubt not a little by the witch-shadow of Judge 
Hawthorne's unfortunate condemnation of Rebecca 
Nurse, whose dying curse was never ignored; partly 
also by a sense of superiority, which, I think, was the 
skeleton in every Hawthorne's body at that time. 

From Boston, in the year 1839 Nathaniel Hawthorne 
wrote : 

You are still sweet Sophia Hawthorne, and still your 
soul and intellect breathe forth an influence like that 
of wildflowers, to which God, not man, gives all their 
sweetness. ... If the whole world had been ran- 
sacked for a name, I do not think that another could 
have been found to suit you half so well. It is as 
sweet as a wildflower. You ought to have been born 
with that very name only then I should have done 
you an irreparable injury by merging it in my own. 

You are fitly expressed to my soul's apprehension 
by those two magic words Sophia Hawthorne! 1 
repeat them to myself sometimes; and always they 
have a new charm. I am afraid I do not write very 
clearly, having been pretty hard at work since sun- 
rise. You are wiser than I, and will know what I have 
tried to say. . . * 


The engagement of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Sophia 
Peabo'dy was announced in 1840 and shortly before the 
marriage, July 9, 1842, the future husband received from 
his intended bride the following exquisite bit of poetry: 


God granteth not to man a richer boon 

Than tow'rd himself to draw the waiting soul, 

Making it swift to pray this high control 

Would with according grace its jars attune. 

And man on man the largest gift bestows 

When from the vision-mount he sings aloud, 

And pours upon the unascended crowd 

Pure Orders heavenly Stream that o'er him flows. 

So thou, my friend, hast risen through thought supreme 

To central insight of eternal law. 

Thy golden-cadenced intuitions gleam 

From that new heaven which John of Patmns saw ; 

And I my spirit lowly bend to thine, 

In recognition of thy words divine. 

Eight years of unalloyed happiness was God's sweet gift 
to the Hawthornes, first in their home at the Old Manse, in 
Concord, and later in Salem. Two children blessed this 
union of love, first Una and then Julian. In 1850 they 
sought a home by the sea, but instead they drifted up to 
the mountains of Berkshire and were happy. There, a half 
mile out of Stockbridge on the road to Lenox, in "Haw- 
thorne Cottage," Rose, their youngest child, was born; or, 
as they ever lovingly called her,. "Baby Rosebud." 

It was in this "Hawthorne Cottage," the birthplace of 
Rosebud, that the father wrote those things that hold 
something of the healthy grandeur of nature, the sublimity 
of a Berkshire winter, the radiance of a New England 
summertime. They efnbrace "a joy of untheoried, peace- 
ful, or gloriously perturbed life of sky and land." They 
express, what the scene that lay before the cottage held 
for him a sublimity that reminded him of God. He 
heard a divine voice that dictated thoughts higher anil 
nobler than if he had remained in a town or village covert. 
For he led a wholly interior life in this tiny retreat 
among the hills of Massachusetts, one that gave to his art 


an aroma of spirituality, at the same time graceful, tender, 
and mystic. 

The quiet life at Lenox was interrupted in 1853 when 
Hawthorne was appointed American Consul at Liverpool 
by President Pierce. Little Rosebud was but two years old 
at the time; yet she knew that her father was moving in 
the best literary and fashionable society. Later she wrote 
that she 

had to be satisfied with a glance and a smile, which 
were so much less than he had been able to give to my 
brother and sister in their happier childhood days, for 
they had enjoyed hours of his companionship as a 
constant pastime. I was, moreover, much younger 
than the others, and was never allowed to grow, as I 
wished, out of the appelations of Rosebud, Baby, and 
Bab (as my father always called me), and all the in- 
fantine thought which those pet names imply. I longed 
myself to hear the splendidly grotesque fairy tales, 
sprung from his delicious jollity of imagination, which 
Una and Julian had reveled in when our father had 
been at leisure in Lenox and Concord; and the various 
frolics about which I received appetizing hints as I 
grew into girlhood made me seem to myself a stranger 
who had come too late. But a stranger at Haw- 
thorne's side could be very happy, and, whatever my 
losses, I knew myself to be rich. 

Romeward led the way for the Hawthornes in 1857. 
Here it was in the city of the Popes that a beautiful, fre- 
quent companionship sprang up between the father and his 
little daughter, Rose. Here, too, the child recognized St. 
Peter's as the "heart of Rome, and its pulse the Pope." 
So eloquent did she become after she had seen Pio Nono 
in Holy Week, "high up in the balcony before the moun- 
tainous dome, looking off over the great multitude of peo- 
ple gathered to receive his blessing," that her mother pre- 


sented her with a little medallion of the Pontiff and a gold 
scudo with a likeness of him on it. She reverenced both all 
the days of her life. Unwittingly, she was being drawn to 
the true Faith of Christ; she was evincing an unusual in- 
terest in things pertaining to the Catholic religion. She 
says that she watched go through the streets of Rome "in 
brown garb and great unloveliness a frequent monk brave 
and true." She continues : 

Who does not feel, without a word to reveal the 
fact, the wondrous virtue of Catholic religious ob- 
servance in the churches? The holiness of these re- 
gions sent through me waves of peace. I stepped softly 
past the old men and women who knelt upon the 
pavements, and gazed longingly upon their simpler 
spiritual plane ; I drew back reluctantly from the only 
garden where the Cross is planted in visible, reverential 
substance. For the years ensuing this life in Rome, I 
entertained the family with dramatic imitations of 
religious chants, grumbling out at sundown the low, 
ominous echoings of the priests, answered by the 
treble, rapid and trustful, of the little choristers, 
gladly picturing to myself as I did so the winding pro- 
cessions in St. Peter's. 

The Hawthornes spent the summer of 1858 in Florence. 
Here, too, the beauties of the Catholic Church made a last- 
ing impression on the visitors; its influence was not lost on 
the lovely soul of the little Rosebud. From their villa, in 
one of the towers of which Savonarola had been confined, 
the Hawthornes could see Galileo's own tower over against 
them in the distance. Before them lay Florence, "pin- 
nacled and roof-crowned" in the valley with the Apennines 
afar off, where the sun sets beyond the Arno. In this 
abode of infinite peace and quiet the days were spent in- 
doors; but the evenings were passed in the sapphire glory 
of the Italian night, under the moon and stars. At that 


time a comet kept company with the other flowers of the 
nocturnal heavens. In connection with this fact the elders 
spoke of war and misery, of which the comet was accused 
of being a messenger. But Rose says that her 

child's heart already knew the iron truth, and was not 
astonished at the intrusion of such a thought, that 
beauty and peace must always entertain the herald of 
the other country the dark one. There was a sad- 
ness about Italy, although it lay under "the smile of 
God," as my father calls its sunshine. He and my 
mother often mention this shadow, as before remarked, 
in their records. At times the cause seems to them 
to come from the "incubus" of the Catholic religion, 
although they both believed it capable of being wholly 
perfect. Glorious scenes were constantly soothing this 
sense of human sorrow, scenes such as cannot be 
found in regions outside the Church. 

How true is it that God's ways are not our ways. Little 
by little the young Rose was being led to the source of all 
Truth, the foundation stone of her later life. Perhaps 
the strongest influence exerted in this direction was that 
of a serving maid, Stella, who was at this time in the employ 
of the Hawthornes. God was illuminating the pathway of 
the child by the light of this humble Florentine guiding-star, 
she who is the "Stella" in Nathaniel Hawthorne's roman- 
tic Monte Beni. The picture of Stella on 

her knees in her bedroom, a bare and colorless abode, 
her great black crucifix hanging in majestic solitude 
upon the wall above her handsome old head. I thought 
her temporarily insane to pray so much, and at all to 
an audience; but I recognized the gentleness of the 
attacks, and I somehow loved her for them. Even 
to the ignorance of error truth can be beautiful. 
An extremely attractive little Italian maid, of sixteen 
or less, used also to be found on her knees before the 


crucifix. Stella was obliged to drive this dark-eyed 
butterfly to her devotions. If I discovered her, I 
had no reverence, and tried unmercifully to interrupt 
her soft whispers. Stella's loving revenge for my 
wickedness was to give me a tiny wax sleeping Bam- 
bino, surrounded by flowers under a convex glass, 
whose minute face had a heaven of smiling forgiveness 
in it. Often I surreptitiously studied the smile on the 
sleeping face. I felt that He loved us even during 
His sleep; and I cherished the gaze of shining glad- 
ness with which Stella herself had placed this treasure 
in my hand, which could so simply quicken sluggish 

But Roman and Florentine days came to an end for Rose- 
bud and she was transplanted from the warmth of Catholic 
Italy to the chill of Puritan New England. Catholicity, 
however, had penetrated the heart of the child, never to 
be entirely effaced. She spent melancholy days after her 
return to Concord; although her mother wrote at the time 

Rose raised all the echoes of the country by screaming 
with joy over her blooming crocuses, which she found 
in her garden. The spring intoxicates her with re- 
membering wine. . . . Little spots of green grass 
choke her with unutterable ecstasy. 

Hawthorne had returned in order to cherish American 
loyalty in his children. He loved New Kngland, and he 
wished^them to appreciate the American phase of everyday 
life in its simplest stage. Around the hills of Berkshire he 
wound the purple haze of which his friend Oliver Wendell 
Holmes spoke in such ecstasy. He wished the world to 
see the wealth of beauty and virtue in the land of his birth 
that land which then was but only half appreciated. 1 lis 
love for home, too, called him back from across the seas. 


In Concord he entered upon a long renunciation 
[writes his daughter. But] of necessity this was 
beneficial to his art. He was not fully primed with 
observation, and The Dolliver Romance, hammered 
out from several beginnings that he successively cast 
aside, appeared so exquisitely pure and fine because 
of the hush of fasting and reflection which environed 
the worker. It is the unfailing history of great souls 
that they seem to destroy themselves most in relation 
to the world's happiness when they most deserve and 
acquire a better reward. He was starving, but he 
steadily wrote. He was weary of the pinched and 
unpromising condition of our daily life, but he smiled, 
and entertained us and guided us with unflagging man- 
liness, though with longer and longer intervals of 
wordless reserve. I was never afraid to run to him 
for his sympathy, as he sat reading in an easy-chair, 
in some one of those positions of his which looked as 
if he could so sit and peruse till the end of time. I 
knew that his response would be so cordially given 
that it would brirn over me, and so melodiously that 
it would echo in my heart for a great while; yet it 
would be as brief as the single murmurous stroke of 
one from a cathedral tower, half startling by its in- 
tensity, but which attracts the birds, who wing by 
preference to that lofty spot. 

At their home, 'The Wayside," the Hawthornes led a 
life of simplicity, innocent enjoyment, and sacrifice. The 
decline of her father's health caused Rosebud no little 
anxiety; it affected the entire family with half-admitted 
dread. The first notes of the requiem that was about to 
surge through the portals of the home shrine that love 
had built fell through the sounds of everyday life. Haw- 
thorne's great vigor paled, his weakness became more ap- 
parent, his hair became snowy white. And little Rosebud 
grieved, although at the time she was but thirteen years of 


age. She saw her father's steps falter and his frame waste 
away; she saw her mother's silent sorrow and her beautiful 
resignation. The day her father left the house to take the 
journey for his health which led instead into the next world, 
she could hardly let her eyes rest upon her mother's 
shrunken, suffering form. Little Rosebud was looking for 
the first time into the eyes of Death and Sorrow, into the 
Infinite and Eternal. She felt in some vague way that this 
was a day of real farewell, that he would never return. 
Of the final leave-taking she says : 

Like a snow image of an unbending but an old, old 
man, he stood for a moment gazing at me. My mother 
sobbed, as she walked beside him to the carriage. We 
have missed him in the sunshine, in the storm, in the 
twilight, ever since. 

The years passed, and little Rosebud bloomed into the 
fairest rose of all the Hawthornes. For a husband she 
chose a writer of note, George Parsons Lathrop. They 
were married in London, September n, 1871. To this 
happy union a son was born ; but it was not in God's Provi- 
dence that the mother would know for long the joys of 
motherhood. The death of her boy was the first real trial 
to come to the heart of Mrs. Lathrop. 

An unusual felicity marked the married life of the 
Lathrops. Each was a fitting companion for the other; 
love, patience, faith, and sweet understanding made the 
years ones of peace and concord. Their greatest joy came 
to them shortly before the death of Mr. Parsons. The 
light of divine Faith which Rose Hawthorne had seen in 
the simple soul of the little Italian maid kneeling before 
her great crucifix now illumined her own being and passed 
on somehow to that of her husband. They were received 
into the Church by the Reverend Alfred Young, of the 
Congregation of St. Paul the Apostle, and shortly after 


were confirmed by the Most Reverend Michael A. Corri- 
gan, Archbishop of New York, in the archbishop's private 
chapel. God was preparing the way in which Rose 
Lathrop was to walk as the valiant woman, the way 
which led for her into countless hearts of Christ's afflicted 

Fenelon, the great French preacher and thinker, says: 

There is no greatness in despising little things. On 
the contrary, it is the narrowness of your view which 
makes you see that as small, which has such great 
results. The more distasteful you find this heed of 
little things, so much the more should you guard 
against any carelessness. "Who so despiseth little 
things shall fall by little and little" (Ecclus. xix. i). 
Be your own judge. Would you be satisfied with that 
friend who, owing all to you and ready to serve you in 
great matters, still refused to comply with your wishes 
in the little occurrences of daily life? 

Shortly before her husband's death Mrs. Lathrop heard 
of a refined seamstress who, having become impoverished 
and being afflicted with cancer, suffered much because of 
neglect, humiliations, and, finally, abandonment. This liv- 
ing picture of Christ and Him crucified touched the heart 
of Rose Hawthorne, much as did the child whom her father 
had found in an English hospital long years before and of 
whom he wrote in Our Old Home. Nathaniel Hawthorne's 
words in regard to this little child had made a deep impres- 
sion upon his daughter when she read them as a girl; and 
now her father's perfect charity, his instant and practical 
sympathy for suffering human beings, found expression in 
the daughter's soul to an heroic degree. She lavished upon 
this forsaken woman the first fruits of her new determina- 
tion. She decided, furthermore, to consecrate her life hence- 
forth to the care of Christ's poor cancer patients. This 
was in 1896, 


Death took her devoted husband from her side shortly 
afterward. Then it was that she felt herself free to make 
a complete renunciation of self and self-satisfaction, and 
to devote herself entirely to the great work that lay before 
her. She broke away from her circle of charming friends, 
and from the pleasant intellectual pursuits in which they 
were wont to engage. It was the heart now, and not 
merely the mind, that was to call her into action, that was 
to claim her time and attention. Her position as a short- 
story writer was already an enviable one; but now the time 
given to the pen was to be turned over to healing the sick 
and comforting the dying. She began to study the science 
of nursing. Then she took up a humble abode on Water 
Street, New York City, to share her rooms and to divide 
her bread with the poorest of the poor; to consecrate her 
whole life to the nursing of their wounds. 

All alone in the rude tenement on Water Street Rose 
Lathrop. provided as best she could for every need of her 
helpless and hopelessly sick family which was daily increas- 
ing in numbers; for others had followed the unfortunate 
seamstress into the outstretched arms of this new heroine 
of charity whom God had raised up in the maze of tene- 
ments of lower Manhattan. As the number of patients 
continued to increase, Mrs. Lathrop realized her absolute 
need of help and almost desperately prayed for assistance. 
She felt her privations, her limitations, her overwhelming 
responsibilities; for she was still human. The literary 
lights with whom she had been accustomed to mingle no 
longer sought her company; it was not long until she was 
completely forgotten by them.. The task she had volun- 
tarily undertaken seemed to crush her with its superhuman 
responsibilities. But God was with her. She knew it and 
she would not be afraid. 

Archbishop Ullathorne says: 


Remember what you have been so often taught, that 
nothing becomes great and enduring that has not a 
slow and difficult beginning. The grass springs 
quickly, and as quickly fades and perishes; the acorn 
is long in the ground because ifproduces a tree that 
is to last for hundreds of years; it is the dreary winter 
that prepares the bright summer. 

Those first days on Water Street were filled to over- 
flowing with suffering, sacrifices, and hardships; but just 
when the lowering clouds of failure made the outlook seem 
altogether hopeless, the sunshine of Christ's ever-guiding 
Presence flooded the little tenement hospital and the soul 
of its noble inmate. God was sending her a helper who 
would share her trials and privations, who would cleanse 
and bind the wounds of her dear outcasts, who would care 
for them with a mother's tenderness. And all this she 
would do because of Him who loved them with an ever- 
lasting love. A knock was heard on the door,, and in 
stepped Miss Alice Huber, the daughter of a prominent 
Catholic family of Louisville, Kentucky. Some time before 
she had accidentally read about the work which Mrs. 
Lathrop was doing for the cancerous poor in New York 
City. She was deeply impressed as she read, and she de- 
cided to visit the scene of such heroic charity. 

It was the afternoon of December 15, 1897, ^ at Miss 
Huber, carrying a letter of introduction from the great con- 
vert priest, Father Fidelis Stone, of the Congregation of 
the Passion, set out to find Mrs. Lathrop. When she 
reached Water Street and stood before the number given 
to her by the priest she saw a dilapidated frame building; 
there was no bell, and the door leading into the hall stood 
open. Some children who were playing about told her 
that if she were looking for Mrs. Lathrop she would fin4 
her in a room at the rear of the hall. Miss Huber entered 


the tenement and knocked on the door pointed out by the 
children. It was opened and then Miss Huber saw her 
life's work. She herself describes the situation : 

It was opened by a very untidy woman, with loosely 

done-up hair, who wore a rather short red wrapper, 

with the underskirt hanging below, another woman, 

older than the first, was ironing in the room (which 

proved to be the kitchen) ; she stood still as I entered, 

holding the iron in her hand, to hear what I had to 

say. I was shown into a good-sized room opening 

from the kitchen (afterward I learned that this room 

was the living one and dispensary; sometimes it served 

also as a bedroom when an extra patient came in), 

and the untidy woman called out, "A young lady to 

see you, Mrs. Lathrop." A fair, bright-faced woman 

(who was bandaging up an old woman's leg) rose 

from her work and came forward to meet me. I 

handed her the letter she glanced at it and said, 

"Have you been in Rome?" I replied, "No." "Do 

sit down," she said, "until I finish and then we can 

have a long talk." I sat down on a green sofa, the 

only comfortable thing in the room, and glanced 

about; everything was clean, but as crowded, poor, 

and simple as could be; Mrs. Lathrop was beautiful 

and youthful-looking, with a mass of rich auburn hair; 

she wore a nurse's dress and her manner of dealing 

with the old women was cheerful and simple. The 

old women themselves were not over-clean, and were 

exacting in their demands ; one seemed a good-natured 

little person, the second a hard-working woman, and 

the third was a cross old lady with a stick which she 

planted firmly before her and gazed fiercely upon her 

companions (I had the pleasure of improving the 

acquaintance of all three later on, and found the old 

lady with the stick quite as fierce as she appeared to 

be). After a time Mrs. Lathrop finished her work 

and sat down near me for a talk; we talked for a long 


time (at least Mrs. Lathrop did). I was debating in 
my mind whether or not I would offer to help her, if 
only for a few hours each week the neighborhood, 
the patients, the untidy women in the kitchen all 
seemed repulsive to me, and yet I could not make up 
my mind to leave without offering to do something to 
help her out, so I offered to come one afternoon of 
each week; by this time the inhabitants of the kitchen 
were bordering on distraction over my long visit, so I 
rose to take my departure. 

Mrs. Lathrop accompanied me to the street door to 
point out the most direct way to the Grand Street 
Ferry. I looked at her as she stood there the only 
bright object in all that ugliness and misery and as 
I looked a great feeling of pity and affection filled my 
heart for her, and though since that eventful day my 
faith in human nature has sadly changed, my faith and 
affection for Mrs. Lathrop always remained the same. 

Miss Huber returned to the house of suffering the fol- 
lowing Tuesday to help in the dispensary. At first she felt 
an intense disgust with the work she had to do, but Mrs. 
Lathrop seemed so cheerful and happy and when she was 
about to leave looked at her so pleadingly that she prom- 
ised to return. Soon, she began to spend two afternoons of 
each week in the tenement house on Water Street, and then 
she felt the call of the Master to leave all and stay in this 
tiny retreat in His service. She answered with rapture; 
calm and secure, she entered the wide cloister of that Heart 
soon to be welded to her own. 

The two servants nursed the homeless sick in their apart- 
ment and visited those who were able to remain in their 
own homes. One of their patients lived in the Dominican 
parish of St. Vincent Ferrer. So great was the appreciation 
of one of the priests of the parish that he went to the 
Water Street house to thank personally the two nurses. 
He hesitated to enter, for the poor frame building, leaning 


to one side, seemed unfit for human habitation. But 
within he found order and cleanliness; and, likewise, he 
found the charity of Jesus Christ. He saw the sufferings 
of the patients, their disfigured faces and bodies, their open 
wounds and decaying members. He beheld the work that 
one reads of in the lives of the saints. And then his eyes 
rested on a picture of St. Rose of Lima, the American 
Dominican of the Andes, the glory of the Western Hemi- 
sphere. The priest suggested that the two women before 
him join the Third Order of St. Dominic, to enjoy more 
fully the inspiration and merits of the saints of the Church. 
God's call was clear and sweet, and in the happiness of their 
already partial consecration they answered this pleading of 
a greater complete renunciation unhesitatingly and joyfully. 

They joined the Third Order and made the vows of reli- 
gion. They became the Tabernacle of the Suffering Savior, 
a Sanctuary for the very Godhead. "They shall make Me 
a sanctuary, and I will dwell in the midst of them." 

Hardships and sufferings continued in the little convent 
home. The following account of the early days on Water 
Street was written by Miss Huber: 

It was only then I began to realize the sacrifice and 
hardships of Mrs. Lathrop's life; it was work curly 
and late, sometimes far in the night; we were sur- 
rounded, for the most part, by a low class of people; 
we had no time for reading, I could not even write a 
letter, the change was so great; the patients groaned, 
the women in the kitchen rattled pots and pans, and 
the people in the neighborhood never seemed to go to 
bed, and I became extremely homesick. About that 
time Mrs. Lathrop became very ill and everything fell 
on my untrained shoulders; however, she soon recov- 
ered and all went on as usual. We were at that time 
extremely poor boxes served as chairs, and we ate in 
the kitchen with the untidy women and some of the 


patients who were able to be about, as there was no 
other place. The summer of 1898 was an intensely 
hot one, the Water Street tenement quarters became 
almost unbearable, the walls were filled with bugs, 
and when it rained the ceiling of the room which Mrs. 
Lathrop and I occupied leaked, and pans were put 
about the floor to catch the water ; the room was very 
small and opened upon one occupied by the patients. 
As is usually the case, the winter was as cold as the 
summer had been hot; the patients were comfortable 
in their beds, but we almost froze; however, we man- 
aged to pull through, and in the spring several gentle- 
men who were interested in the work made an effort 
to secure more comfortable and secluded quarters for 
us. Mrs. Lathrop sent out appeals and responses 
came from all parts of the country, and on the first 
day of May, 1899, we moved from Water Street to 
426 Cherry Street a comfortable, old-fashioned 
house, in which twelve and sometimes (with crowd- 
ing) fifteen patients were kept. It had a yard in the 
rear, and we felt we had secured a home which seemed 
palatial compared to our few tenement rooms in the old 
frame house on Water Street. 

426 Cherry Street was opened May i, 1899, and 
after settling down, we felt it was sufficiently imposing 
to have a name; it was called "St. Rose's Free Home 
for Incurable Cancer." Many benefactors of the 
work remembered the old St. Rose's Home, and many 
memories, connected with the foundation and growth 
of the work, are associated with it. 

It was in the Cherry Street home that Rose Hawthorne 
Lathrop was clothed, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the 
I loly Cross, with the Dominican habit of white and was 
given the name of Sister Alphonsa. Her associate and 
faithful companion became Sister Rose. Happy, indeed, 
was Archbishop Corrigan when he granted permission to 
the new Community to have Mass and keep the Blessed 


Sacrament in their chapel. When some one mentioned that 
the beginning of the institute was rather extraordinary, 
because of the smallness of the sisters' number and their 
short time of preparation, he smiled and answered: "Let 
us help them to the best of our ability. For if this work 
be of men it will come to naught, but if it be of God you 
cannot destroy it" 

That the work is of God is indicated by its growth and 
development. The Cherry Street house soon became too 
small. The sisters had many calls for destitute male cases 
and Mother Alphonsa tried to care for them in rented 
rooms in the neighborhood. But this was not successful. 
In the early spring of 1901, a great, rambling, old frame 
building in Westchester County was purchased and called 
"Rosary Hill. 51 It was opened June I, 1901, and to it 
were transferred the destitute men suffering from the in- 
curable cancer. Sister Rose says of this incident: 

That was the first break Mother went to Rosary 
Hjll and I remained at St. Rose's. How lonesome it 
was to see her empty chair before the desk where she 
had spent so many hours. 

The first few years at Rosary Hill were almost 
disastrous; patients came as soon as the place was 
opened; there were few helpers and little money; the 
house was a mere shell, and the wintry winds beat 
fiercely against it, and the coal bins were often to the 
last few tons; that first winter was a terrible one, and 
we fought the battle alone as best we could, for it 
meant either to sink or swim. At last came spring, 
and Mother Alphonsa, always responsive, rejoiced in 
the flowers and budding trees, and the winter was 
forgotten for the time being. We were advised to 
give up Rosary Hill, but we refused to do so, and 
Mother wrote appeals for assistance; sufficient came 
in to make the place more habitable, and to fill the 
coal bins. Gradually the work grew, and as gradu- 


ally the place improved, improvements were added 
from year to year, and Rosary Hill is now one of the 
most beautiful places in Westchester County, and 
thousands of patients have been cared for. 

The house on Cherry Street developed also into the pres- 
ent five-story building at 71 Jackson Street. In 1924 a 
fireproof annex was built at Rosary Hill and in 1927 gen- 
erous hearts contributed sufficient sums to erect a beautiful 
new home on the same grounds. Here is housed one hun- 
dred or more poor men and women who have come to the 
spiritual daughters of Mother Alphonsa to spend their re- 
maining days with bodies tortured and slowly decaying. 

Other noble souls have enlisted under the banner raised 
aloft in the name of Christ, and for His poor neglected, 
by Mother Alphonsa and Sister Rose; others, but only a 
few. The work grew rapidly for the story of such gentle 
ministrations was passed from lip to lip in all New York 
and beyond the city's confines. As a consequence the houses 
became taxed to capacity, yet sufficient helpers were always 
lacking to carry on the work. For an increase of laborers, 
Mother Alphonsa prayed daily. To this end she adopted 
the prayer of the great Teresa: 

O my Jesus 1 how deep is Thy love for the children 
of men 1 The greatest service we can render Thee is 
to leave Thee, for the sake of loving and aiding them. 
Then do we possess Thee most entirely, for, though our 
will enjoy Thee less, yet love delights to please Thee. 
During this mortal life, all worldly delights are found 
to be uncertain, even though they seem to come from 
Thee, unless the love of our neighbor bear them com- 
pany. Who loves not his brethren loves not Thee, my 
Lord, for Thy Blood, shed for us, bears witness to 
Thy boundless love for the sons of Adam. 

St. Joseph's House a part of the Rosary Hill home 
of to-day was blessed April 24, 1924, and to it on the 


following day the sick patients were transferred from the 
old wooden house which was on the property when the sis- 
ters came in 1901. Soon it was apparent that larger quar- 
ters were imperative, and Mother Alphonsa, ever trustful 
in Divine Providence, began to lay plans for a three hun- 
dred thousand dollar fireproof building for her dear charges. 
She had great confidence in the general public and felt they 
would respond to her frequent newspaper appeals volun- 
tarily. The following was her last letter to one of the 
papers of New York City, and which she intended sending 
at an early date. It was found among her papers shortly 
after her death : 

I have been superintending the raising of funds for 
building a fireproof house for cancer patients who are 
penniless and beyond cure. There is a large sum yet 
to be collected, and to the people of New York (ac- 
customed to a rapid advance from a starting point 
to a finish) years of time would seem absolutely un- 
necessary for begging for a charitable need. To tell 
the truth it seems to me to be a terribly slow progress; 
it is like going to the North Pole in the old way, by 
ship and dog-teams. 

Many persons know nothing of our work for the 
cancerous poor, and if accosted by a person asking for 
a donation would give a sum out of politeness, men- 
tally asking "what unheard of thing is this?"; we are 
practical enough to want every one to know what it is, 
and to give a bit because their hearts are touched ; to 
help us build this house of mercy because they are 
sorry for the sick, and never to forget to care for them 
when the house is built; when the sick will need food 
and warmth. Our method in caring for the support 
of our invalids is tedious indeed, but it seems to have 
been beneficial in many ways. We have a host of 
generous spirited letters of donation that show friend- 
ship has been won for all the future for the cancerous 


poor, not only among New Yorkers but beyond the 

If we are slow in pace, we are not in the least mod- 
erate in desire for monumental strength; we need one 
of the large sums that are going through the air for 
every purpose ; we not only need a fireproof Hospital- 
Home, but we need a fireproof Chapel and Convent, 
and expect to get them only after another terrible 
journey of a few years. The Community will prin- 
cipally sleep in the old wooden house close by the new 
one and will worship in the wooden chapel and carry 
on generally as if we were on an Asiatic mission. We 
keep clearly before our eyes that first of all we want 
a secure Home for our incurable cancer patients; that 
we want it so well paid for by the citizens of New 
York that we can make it admirably good, and at the 
same time avoid a mortgage of $ioo,ooo-.oo. 


Rosary Hill Home, Hawthorne, N. Y. 

An amount was collected in 1925 sufficiently large to 
warrant the beginning of operations for the erection of 
the new building. Mother Alphonsa's heart was filled to 
overflowing; how sympathetic always is mankind for the 
afflicted! She hoped to have the patients settled in their 
new home Christmas Day of that year; but in this she was 
disappointed. She had a trustful disposition, however, and 
she looked forward happily to the coming of spring, for 
then certainly would her hopes be realized. Spring came 
and went and summer settled over the hills of Westchester. 
Only then was the building commenced. This was in 
June. The month had scarcely ended when she passed 

Shortly afterward Sister Rose wrote: 

On the ninth of July we lost our Mother. There 
had been no foreboding, no weeks of anxiety; while 


Mother Alphonsa had not seemed as strong as usual, 
she was active, and her mind was unusually brilliant, 
and we felt that she would live to be very old, so her 
death came as a bolt from a clear sky, unexpected, un- 
foreseen. Much has been written of Mother Al- 
phonsa, but few knew the many difficulties, sacrifices, 
and hardships she passed through. There were times 
when it seemed that the work was on the point of 
failure, but she met such times cheerfully and bravely, 
saying, "We will trust in God, and if He wants this 
work to succeed, it will do so"; her trust in Divine 
Providence was absolute, hence she felt little anxiety 
for the future. 

She is now at rest in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery ; 
we saw her coffin sinking slowly into the grave, the 
edge of which was lined with green branches and el- 
derberry blossoms; they covered the coffin as she 
passed from our sight, peacefully, as she had passed 
from life. 

She has gone, but her work remains as a monument 
of her love for the poor and afflicted. 

We can always remember Mother Alphonsa as beau- 
tiful, brilliant, and wonderfully cheerful she showed 
no sign of age or decay; may she watch over us from 
her eternal home, and may her work for the afflicted 
poor be carried out in the spirit in which it was 

Mother Alphonsa let her mantle fall on worthy shoul- 
ders, for scarcely had the requiem ended over all that was 
earthly of the sainted foundress but that Sister Rose now 
Mother Rose began to carry on the work with indefatig- 
able zeal and earnestness. On October 2, 1927, Rosary 
Hill was blessed by Patrick Cardinal Hayes, Archbishop 
of New York, and dedicated to the cause for which Mother 
Alphonsa had given up home and kindred and pleasant 
surroundings, some twenty-six years before. The formal 


opening of the new home marked the close of another chap- 
ter in the epic story of the heroic struggle of Mothers 
Alphonsa and Rose, and their devoted little band of 
Dominican sisters to provide a home for the poor old men 
and women who come to them, in misery, poverty, and 
abandonment, to spend the evening of their lives. It is a 
work that is close to the heart of Christ. 

In preparing those "who must go for the most beautiful 
adventure of all," Mother Alphonsa saw the true dignity 
of the poor. She recognized them as God's favorite chil- 
dren. She thought upon the days of old and remembered 
Job, covered with ulcers, abandoned by his friends, mocked 
by men yet loved by God. She saw in her charges, Lazarus 
the despised, lying at the gate of the rich man who was 
clothed in purple and fine raiments but who refused to the 
outcast the crumbs from his table. But God loved him, 
she remembered, for the angels came the next day and 
carried him into Paradise. But neither Job nor Lazarus 
were more neglected nor more abandoned than those upon 
whom Mother Alphonsa lavished her care and affection. 
She chose the poorest of the poor, the most afflicted of the 
afflicted the cancerous sick who were penniless and beyond 
cure. She sought them in the tenement houses of the city 
and brought them to her own humble abode to become their 
servant for the love of Christ. 

I am trying to serve the poor as a servant [she 
wrote]. I wish to serve the cancerous poor because 
they are avoided more than any other class of suf- 
ferers; and I wish to go to them as a poor creature 
myself, though powerful to help through the open- 
handed gifts of public kindness, because it is by 
humility and sacrifice alone that we become worthy to 
feel the holy spirit of pity and to carry into the dis- 
orders of destitute sickness the cheerful love we have 
gathered from the Heavenly Kingdom for distribution. 


In tending the sick poor, we should be made up of 
souls who are in love with self-denial. We must be 
capable of renouncing ease and pastime for the sake 
of that true love of God which shares the sufferings 
of Christ in a mode of life which He recommended 
and lived. 

Any one who reads the historical records of charity 
can discover what such labors accomplish in evolving: 
an activity that may be felt everywhere. And I hope 
for the sake of so great a benefit to the larger number, 
women will realize that self-consecration is even now 
both fitting and possible on the very lines made clear 
by sturdy and spiritual workers of the past. 

Mother Alphonsa realized that she must give a personal 
service to Christ's beloved poor. When God had freed 
her from family duties, she broke completely all worldly 
and social ties and consecrated her entire being to His 
service. And this service consisted in an intelligent under- 
standing of the task at hand, a sympathetic heart to under- 
take it willingly, and loving and gentle hands to minister 
cheerfully. She saw in the poor who had gathered around 
her that other group of sorely afflicted who had corne to the 
outstretched arms of Him whose blessed call of mercy had 
sounded over Judean hills and up and down the shores of 
Galilee. "Come to me all ye that suffer," she, too, had 
cried, and when they came to her she knelt and cleansed 
their wounds and bound their bleeding members. Many 
love Mother Alphonsa because she did not hesitate to bend 
her knees to do the humblest work for the humblest of 
Christ's poor. But those to whom her gentle ministrations 
brought comfort, peace, and quiet, love her because she 
persevered so valiantly in this consecrated service, continu- 
ing it for more than a quarter of a century, even to the 
very hour when the angels took her, like Lazarus, into the 
House of the Father. 


For her adopted children, Mother Alphonsa believed 
there was nothing too good. Because they were so help- 
lessly and hopelessly poor, she was not content with giving 
them a mere shelter and daily sustenance. She viewed their 
plight and saw its relief in the light of the Gospels. They 
were Christ's favorite souls ; they were to be given the very 
best the world has to offer. She brought to them a com- 
fortable, artistic, and beautiful home; she placed it amid 
ever-changing scenes of valley and mountain; she put at 
their service and their command an efficient band of con- 
secrated women who were there primarily and exclusively 
to be their servants. And while she brought to them the 
pleasing and refreshing gifts of nature, she realized that, 
above all things, her greatest gift to them was the consola- 
tion of religion. She tabernacled in their midst the Com- 
forter of the Afflicted, the Solace of the Dying. 

Mother Alphonsa was the sustaining angel of mercy to 
these poor afflicted in their days of Gethsemane. She 
walked with them along their road to Calvary and helped 
many to carry the Cross to the heights of Golgotha. She 
taught them to suffer and to die like Christ. She pictured 
for them the mount of the Transfiguration, the glory of 
Tabor. She lifted them from their bed of suffering to the 
seventh heaven, from the bondage of earth and earthly 
things to the freedom of the saints and the joys of 

Mother Alphonsa was a woman of spiritual common 
sense; in other words, she had a boundless confidence in 
Divine Providence. She felt that the Father in Heaven 
who feeds the birds of the air would always give the daily 
bread to her chosen family. Yet for this sustenance she 
never failed to pray. Humbly and with childlike simplicity 
she persevered, during all those years when she depended 
upon the charity of friends and benefactors for even the 
bare necessities of life. And God answered her petitions; 


for it seems that there never was anything wanting to that 
household of Christ. 

The same heroic work to which Mother Alphonsa con- 
secrated her time, her talents, her very life, is going on 
to-day with devoted earnestness. But the helpers are few 
and the sisters who are faithfully following in the footsteps 
of their foundress cry out with the Master that the fields 
are already white with an abundant harvest They pray 
that others of the world will come to the hills of West- 
chester and take from the blessed, motherly hands that now 
are folded in peaceful solitude, the cream-white habit of St. 
Dominic and wear it faithfully in the service of the poor. 
For others, too, can be as rosebuds in God's garden, just 
as this flower of the Hawthornes became the Dominican 
Rose of North America. In the fields of Paradise she is 
to-day. But her memory on earth is as sweet and fragrant 
as on the day of her translation into a place eternal. She, 
too, has been missed in the sunshine, in the storm, in the 
twilight, ever since. 


SUCH stars as these can never vanish from the firmament. 
Their light will continue to enkindle added lamps of knowl- 
edge and more generous fires of charity until the end of 
time. By their radiance the world will know that although 
once they wore the habiliments of mortality, to-day theirs 
is the glory of immortality, since their memory is in the 
keeping of living minds and their ideals perpetuated in 
hundreds of loving hearts. The sacrifices of these women 
were not in vain. They sowed in tears and sorrows, it is 
true, but how rich are the harvests of these sorrowings. 
Great institutions have come into being through their in- 
spiration; numerous bands of virgins have followed in 
their footsteps; countless souls have been won to God be- 
cause of their zeal and devotion. 

Yet in spite of such abiding witnesses to the faith and 
courage of these women the work they began remains 
unfinished. But in this they may find a place in that notable 
company which Cardinal Newman describes as "the real 
heroes of Holy Writ and ecclesiastical history, Moses, 
Elias, David, Athanasius and Chrysostom, Gregory the 
Great and St. Thomas of Canterbury, and many others who 
died without being permitted to see the fruits of their 

Even in the life stories of these holy ones of God, the 
immutable truth that imperfection stamps the noblest work 
of man is strikingly verified. In regard to their own lives, 
our great American foundresses must have realized this 
also. They, too, must have known that they were but 
planting the seeds of a harvest which would ripen only after 



they had passed into eternity. They knew full well that, 
as Newman expresses it, "One only among the sons of man 
has carried out a perfect work, and satisfied and exhausted 
the mission on which he came. One alone has with his last 
breath said : 'Consummatum est! " 

It is for the successors of these women, then, to carry 
on the work which has been handed to them, either directly 
or indirectly. That in the past they have been faithful to 
this charge is beyond questioning. But, because they realize 
that even they will be unable to complete it, they are look- 
ing with anxious eyes to-day into the faces of the young 
women of America. With real concern they are searching 
there for that answer which alone will give to their work 
continuance and expansion. With what depth of yearning 
do they not pray for the approach of souls who can make 
possible added Bethlehems and Nazareths, other houses 
of Martha at Bethany. They see a world bloodstained 
and scarred from the ravages of sin, one that needs much 
healing and solace and kindly ministrations ; a world whose 
sick and dying must not be neglected, one whose poor and 
abandoned must be given refuge; a world that calls for 
more gardens of contemplation, more classrooms that are 
cloisters. They see that numberless little footsteps need 
direction into the Temple, some to be guided to the very 
Tabernacle of the Godhead. 

What a hopeless prospect would this task be but for that 
other vision which is vouchsafed them as they minister 
to those whom the world has forgotten. This time they 
behold in their charges Christ and Him crucified, and are 
wrapt to the third heaven. With St. Paul they are caught 
up to Paradise and hear sacred words which it is not granted 
man to utter. With the Apostle they look into the eyes 
of the Blessed Savior, and read there His promise of as- 
sistance. And because of this promise they are serenely 
hopeful. On their countenances the world may read an 


expectancy of something that is certain of fulfillment; in 
their hearts may be found a thousandfold welcome for 
those who will assist them in the work of the Master. 

For those who will be called to participate in this Divine 
adventure, it is a matter of no little concern that they sense 
the importance of the invitation. They should realize the 
high degree of honor that has been done them by an 
Omnipotent Providence in asking that they take part in 
a work which is great in its conception, great in its nature, 
and great in the reward of its continuance. So great, in- 
deed, that only the foolhardy would dare incur the conse- 
quences of giving it a refusal. For, where may light be 
found by those who have refused to look into the bright- 
ness of Christ's countenance; where may peace be found 
by those who have spurned the call to be one with Him in 
the work of salvation? What bitterness for those whose 
wisdom is such folly; what wisdom for those who know 
the bitterness of such folly. 

Can any one imagine a privilege greater than that of 
being allowed to labor with Christ in the education of the 
young or in the nursing of the sick, in the caring for the 
poor or in the conversion of the heathen? Is not this call 
of the Divine Savior a patent invitation to live with Him 
awhile in Nazareth and the Holy City, to talk with Him 
in the silence of the Temple, to walk at His side over the 
fields and the hills of Galilee to the lake shore of Genes- 
areth ? It is this reaching with mortal hands into eternity 
that gives to the simple, unromantic strivings of everyday 
life their reward and glory. The fatigue of earthly labor 
is thus made bearable by joys not unlike to those "that eye 
hath not seen, nor ear heard" those inconceivable joys that 
God has prepared for those who love and serve Him. 

The work of these great American foundresses is not to 
perish. Christ loved them too well for that. It is to be 
continued with that same wisdom which was theirs in such 


abundance, the wisdom of exchanging a perishable life for 
life everlasting. And thus they are to remain like stars, 
reaching down as lights of glory into a world that needs 
the brightness of the heavens. 


Abell, Rev. Richard, 167, 168 
Agnes, Sister (Providence of St. 

Mary of the Woods), 307 
A lame da, 464 

Allard, Father, O.M.I., 386 et seq. 
Aloysia of the Blessed Trinity, Sister 

(Carmelite), 40, 46 
Aloysius of Our Lady of Good Coun- 
sel, Mother (Carmelite), ix 
Alphonsus, Mother (Ursuline), 439 
Amadeus, 466 
Amadeus of the Heart of Jesus, 

Mother, Foundress of the Ursu- 

lines of Montana and Alaska, x, 

437 ct seq. 
America Press, z 
American Revolution, 23 
Amsterdam, Carmelites in, 41 
Andreis, Rev. Felix de, C.M., 230 
Anne, Sister Mary (Holy Names of 

Jesus and Mary), 392 
Antonella, Sister Mary (Lore trine), ix 
Antwerp, Bishop of, 40, 52 
Antwerp, Carmelites of, 37, 53 et 


Arctics, Grey Nuns in the, 35 
Ark and the Dove, 71 
Armstrong, Father, 360 
Arnoult, Father, 455 
Asiatic Cholera, 113 
Assisi, valley of, 73, 74 
Aude*, Madame Eugenie (Religious 

of the Sacred Heart), 2x5, 223 
Augustine, Sister Mary (Charity of 

Emmitsburg), ix 

Bacon, David W., Bishop of Port- 
land, 5x2 

Badin, Rev. Stephen Theodore, 123, 
125-127, 148 ft seq. 

Baltimore, Carmelites of, ix, 66 

Bancroft, George, 7* 

Barat, St. Madeleine Sophie, Foun- 
dress of the Religious of the 
Sacred Heart, 211 et seq. 

Barclay, Andrew, 75 

Barclay, Charlotte, 75 

Basilde, Sister (Providence of St. 

Mary of the Woods), 311 
Bayard, 206 
Bayley, James Roosevelt, Archbishop 

of Baltimore, 73 
Bayley, Dr. Richard, 74, 80 
Bazin, John S. } Bishop of Vincennes, 

3x6, 317 
Beavin, Sister Mary (Charity of 

Nazareth), 160 
Beavin, Sister Polly (Charity of 

Nazareth), 163 

Bernadette, Mother (Dominican), x 
Bernadina, Mother (Carmelite), 53 
Bernadina Teresa Xavier of St. 

Joseph, Sister (Carmelite), 39 
Bernard, Sister Mary (Dominican), x 
Berthelet, Oliver, 335 
'Berthold, Madame Octavie (Reli- 
gious of Sacred Heart), 2x5, 223 
Bettendorf, Carmelites of, ix 
Bigot, Monsieur Intendant, xx, 13 
Black Cap Sisters of Charity, 117 
Blanchet, Canon, 343 
Blessed Sacrament, Sisters of, viii 
Book of Studies, 423 
Boone, Sister Rosanna (Dominican), 


Borghese, Prince, 4x3 
Botticelli, Alessandro, xxS 
Bouillier, Father, 142 
Bourdaloue's Sermons, 86 et seq. 
Bourgeoys, Venerable Marguerite, 

Foundress of the Sisters of 

the Congregation of Notre Dame, 

Bourget, Ignatius, Archbishop of 

Montreal, 33, 334, 34*, 345 ft 

seq. t 382 et seq. 
Bouvier, J. G., Bishop of Rennes, 

294 et seq., 308, 3x6 
Bradford, Sister Mary (Carmelite), 





Bradley, Denis M., Bishop of Man- 
chester, 376, 378 

Bradley, Sister Mary Gertrude 
(Mercy), 372 

Bradley, Sister Mary Ursula 
(Mercy), 375 

Brassard, Father, 391, 393 et seq. 

Brent, Mother Margaret Mary of 
the Angels (Carmelite), 40 

Brent, Sister Agnes (Visitandine), 

189, 20X 

Brentfield, Charles Co., Md., 46 
Briz, Most Rev. Joachim, O.P., 245 
Brondel, John B., Bishop of Helena, 


Brook, Baker, 48 
Brute, Simon Gabriel, Bishop of Vin- 

cennes, 67, 104, 107, in, 113, 116, 

203, 276 
Buckman, Sister Victoria (Chanty 

of Nazareth), 170 
Buflfalo, Grey Nuns in, 34 
Burke, Sister Mary Agnes (Charity 

of B.V.M.), 284 
Burke, Very Rev. Dean, 365 
Burns, Andrew, S.J., 265 
Buteaux, Father, 300 
Butler, Sister Mary Ann (Charity 

of Emmitsburg), 91 

Calai delP Urabria, 450 
Calvert, Cecil, 70, 71 
Camille, Father, S.J., 454 
"Canonically United Ursulines," see 

Ursulines of Roman Union 
Cape St. Elias, Alaska, 464 
Carberry, Sister Teresa of Jesus 

(Carmelite), 49 
Carceri, 73 
Carey, Matthew, 91 
Carleton, Sir Guy, 75 
Carmelites of Antwerp, 37, 53 et 


Carmelites of Baltimore, ix, 66 
Carmelites of Bettendorf, ix 
Carmelites of Hoogstraeten, 39, 41, 

47, 53 ^ seq. 

Carmelites of Ireland, 452 
Carmelites of Maryland, 36 
Carney, Sister Serena (Charity of 

Nazareth), 172 
Carpenter's Hall, 74 
Carrico, Sister Mary (Dominican), 

Carrico, Sister Teresa (Charity of 

Nazareth), 160 

Carroll, Charles, 367, 428 

Carroll, Sister Columba (Chanty of 
Nazareth), 165 

Carroll, John, Archbishop of Balti- 
more, 40, 47, 54, 57 70, 89. 9<> ft 
seq., lox, 103, 122, 123, 125, 158, 
184, 187, 194* 199 

Carter, Rev. C. L. vicar general of 
Philadelphia, 429 ft seq. 

Cassandra, 265, 266 

Caton, Louisa, Duchess of Leeds, 

Caton, Richard, 428 

Cecilia, Sister Mary (Providence 
of St. Mary of the Woods), 309, 

Cecilia, Mother Mary (Mercy), 36$ 

GSre", Emilie, 386 

Ce*r, Sister Mary Magdalene (Holy 
Names of Jesus and Mary), 386 

Chabrat, Guy Ignatius, Bishop coad- 
jutor of Louisville, 146 

Chambige, Rev. F., 170 

Charity, Sisters of, 16 

Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
Sisters of, 254 ft stq. 

Charity of Cincinnati, Sisters of, 1x7 

Charity of Emmitsburg, Sisters of, 
ix, 70 et seq., 368 

Charity of Greensburg, Sisters of, 

Charity of Halifax, Sisters of, 1x7 

Charity of Nazareth, Sisters of, ix, 
152 et seq. 

Charity of New Jersey, Sisters of, 

Charity of New York, Sister* of, 1x7 

Charity of Providence, Sisters of, 
329 et seq. 

Charlton, Catherine, 75 

Charlton, Rev. Richard, 75 

Charon, M., 6 

Chatard, Francis Silas, Bishop of 
Indianapolis, 327 

Chateauguay, Island of, 26 

Cheverus, John Lefevrt de, Bishop 
of Boston, 87, 105, 203 

Cheyenne Indians of Montana, 437 
et seq. 

Chief "Plenty Coos, 1 * 446 

Cincinnati, Sisters of Charity of, 1x7 

Civil War, Sisters of Charity and 
the, 113 

Clarke, Cornelius, 254 

Clarke, Mother Mary Francis, Foun- 
dress of the Sisters of Charity of 



the Blessed Virgin Mary, x, 254. et 

Clarke, Mary Quartemas, 254 

Clarke, Mother Mary Xavier (Char- 
ity of Emmitsburg), 343 

Clarke, Rev. William H., 153 

Clay, Henry, 165 

Clement, Rev. M., 18 

Cloriviere, Rev. Joseph Pierre Picot 
de, 199 et seq. 

Clossy, Sister Susan (Charity of 
Emmitsburg), 91 

Congregation of Notre Dame, Sisters 
of, 26, 380, 382 

College of St. Charles, Grand 
Coteau, La., 407 

Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul, 

Confraternity of the Sacred Heart 
of Jesus, 56 

Connelly, Adeline, 407, 414, 420 

Connelly, Prank, 4x4, 420 

Connelly, John, 407 

Connelly, Mother Cornelia, Foun- 
dress of the Religious of the Holy 
Child Jesus, x, 406 ct seq. 

Connelly, Mercer, 407, 420 

Connelly, Pierce, 405 et seq. 

Continental Congress, 74 

Conturier, M., superior general of 
the Society of St. Sulpice, 14 

Conwell, Henry, Bishop of Phila- 
delphia, 276 

Coomes, Father, 172 

Cooper, Sister Agatha (Charity of 
Nazareth), 163 

Cooper, Rev. Samuel Sutherland, 91 
ft seq. 

Coppens, Rev. Charles, S.J., 327 

Corbe, Father, 316, 317 

Corbett, Rev. John, S.J., 56 

Corrigan, Michael Augustine, Arch- 
bishop of New York, 483, 489 

Coudrey, Sister Teresa (Carmelite), 

Craigdon-on-the-Hudson, 77 

Cretin, Joseph, Bishop of St. Paul, 

Crimont, Joseph Raphael, S.J., Vicar 

Apostolic of Alaska, 462-465 
CuIIen, Sister Mary Josephine 

(Mercy), 366 
Currier, Charles Warren, Bishop of 

Matanvas, Cuba, 44, 59, 62 
Cusson, Sister Catherine (Grey 

Nun), 6, 7 

Cutts, Mother (Religious of the 
Sacred Heart), 226 

Daltpn, Captain, U. S. A., 458 

David, John Baptist, Bishop of Bards- 
town, 153 et seq. 

Davignon, Sister Veronica of the 
Crucifix (Holy Names of Jesus 
and Mary), 388 et seq. 

Davis, Sister Mary Rose (Mercy), 


De Barberey, Madame, 97 
De Beaucort, M., Governor of Mon- 
treal, 8 
De Beauharnais, M., Governor of 

Quebec, 7 
De Goesbriand, Louis, Bishop of 

Burlington, 375 
De Lacorne, Madame, 8 
De La j ammerais, Christopher Du- 

frost, i 

De Lescoat, M., S.S., 6 
Demers, Catherine, 6 
Dent, James, 128 
De Palys, Count, 2 

De Smet, Pierre Jean, S.J., 223, 280 
Despins, Sister (Grey Nuns), 23 
D'Estainbourg, Monsieur de Lallegas, 

De St. Palais, Maurice, Bishop of 

Vincennes, 317 et seq. 
De Varennes, Marie, 2 
De Varennes, Rene* Gauthier, 2 
De Vaudreuil, Marquis, 3 
Devessey, Lord, 182 
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of 

Jesus in Montreal, i, 18 
Dickinson, Mother Clare Joseph 

Foundress of the Carmelites of 

Maryland, ix, 36 et seq. 
Dillon, Sister Veronica (Mercy), 374 
Dolores, Sister Mary (Mercy), x 
Dominic, Father, C.P., 438 
Dominican Sisters, Servants of Re- 
lief for Incurable Cancer, x, 472 

et seq. 

Dominicans of Kentucky, 230 ct scg. 
Dominique, Sister (Providence of St. 

Mary of the Woods), 297 
"Dominus ac Redemptor," 184 
Donaghoe, Rev. Terence James, 263 

et seq. 

Doyle, Bishop, Dublin, 359 
Doyle, Rev. Gerald, 363 
Doyle, Sister Mary Ann (Mercy), 


S o6 


Drexel, Mother Katharine, viii 

Drury, Rev. Edwin, 150 

Dubois, John, Bishop of New York, 

96, 101, 103, IOS 
Du Bourg, Louis-Guillaume-Valen- 

tin, Bishop of Louisiana, 89, 90 

et seq. t 146, 203, 215, 216 et seg., 


Duchesne, Mother Philippine, Foun- 
dress of the Religious of the Sa- 
cred Heart, x, 206 et seg. 
Duchesne, Pierre Francois, 206 et seg. 
Dufresne, Sister Mary Agnes (Holy 

Names of Jesus and Mary), 383, 

Dufresne, Sister Hortense (Holy 

Names of Jesus and Mary), 399 
Dugas, Mother, Superior General of 

the Grey Nuns of Montreal, ix 
Duhamel, Mother Mary Stanislaus 

(Holy Names of Jesus and Mary), 


Durand, Magdalen, 339, 341 
Durocher, Mother, Foundress of the 

Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus 

and Mary, x, 379 et seg. 
Durocher, Rev. Eusebe, 39, 381, 384 

et seg. 

Durocher, Rev. Flavien, 379 
Durocher, Genevieve, 379 
Durocher, Sister Marie Seraphine 

(Congregation of Notre Dame of 

Montreal), 379, 380, 389 
Durocher, Sieur Olivier, 379 
Durocher, Rev. Theophile, 379, 38*, 

384 et seg. 
Du Rousier, Mother (Religious of 

the Sacred Heart), 226 
D'Youville, Rev. Charles, 10 
D'Youville, Mother, Foundress of 

the Grey Nuns of Canada, ix, x et 


D'Youville, Monsieur Francis Mag- 
dalen, 4 

Early, Rev. John, S.J., 265 

Eccleston, Samuel, Archbishop of 
Baltimore, 203 

Edelen, Sister Magdalen (Domini- 
can), 252 

Edward, Sister Mary (Holy Names 
of Jesus and Mary), 404 

Egan, Michael, Bishop of Philadel- 
phia, 276 

Eleanor of St. Francis Xavier, Sister 
(Carmelite), 40, 46 

Elder, Sister Emily (Dominican), 


Elder, Thomas, 153 

Elder, William H., Archbishop of 
Cincinnati, 153 

Emmitsburg, Sisters of Charity of, 
ix, 61, 70 et seg., 367, 368 

Enghien, College of, 121 

England, John, Bishop of Charles- 
town, 203 

English Martyrs, 45 

English and Mother D'Youville, 20- 


Erskine, Mother Marjory (Religious 
of the Sacred Heart), x, 227 

Facile, Brother, 388 

Faye, Brother, S.J., 272, 281 

Felicienne, Sister Mary (Holy 
Names of Jesus and Mary), 397 

Feligonde, Father, 26 

Felix, Mother Mary (Holy Child 
Jesus), x 

Fenelon, Francois de Salignac, 
Bishop, 483 

Fenwick, Edward Dominic, Bishop 
of Cincinnati, 203, 232 et seg., 243 
et seg. 

Ferrer, Sister St. Vincent (Provi- 
dence of St. Mary of the Woods ), 

Idelis of 

Fidelis of the Cross, Father, O.P., 

Filicchi, Araabilia, 83 
Filicchj, Antonio, 83, 87, 88 
Filicchis, 80, 82, 87, 88, 107 
"First American Sister of Charity," 

First Catholic Hospital opened in 

U. S., 72, 113 
First Catholic Orphanage opened in 

U. S., 72, 104 

First Christians of Alaska, 453 
First Parochial School opened in 

U. S., 72, loj. 
Flaget, Benedict Joseph, Bishop of 

Bardstown, 65, xox, 132, 133 ft 

seg., 145 et seg., 153 ft set/., ifto, 

161, 232, 343 
Flamingo, 84 

Fogarty, Sister Joanna (Mercy). 37* 
Forbes, Sister Elizabeth (Cirry 

Nuns), 30 

Fort Custer, Montana, 445 
Fort Keogh, Montana, 441 
Fort St. Michael, Montana, 457 



Fra Angelico, 118 

France, Sisters of Charity in, 158 

Galileo, 478 

Galipeau, Madame, Foundress of the 

Sisters of Misericorde, 383 
Galitzin, Madame (Religious of 

Sacred Heart), 223 
Gallagher, Father, 368 
Gallitzin, Rev. Demetrius, 122, 153, 


Gamelin, Ignace, 2 
Gamelin, Jean Baptiste, 331 
Gamelin, Marie Louise, 2 
Gamelin, Mother, Foundress of the 

Sisters of Charity of Providence, 

x, 329 et seq. 
Gardiner, Mother Frances (Charity 

of Nazareth), 166, 172 
Gardiner, Sister Harriet (Charity of 

Nazareth), 160 
Gaudentius, Father, C.P., 438 
General Hospital of Montreal, 6 et 


Georgetown College, 123 
Georgetown Visitandines, x, 180 et 


Gibbons, James Cardinal, 70, 116 
Gilbert, Sister Mary (Holy Names 

of Jesus and Mary), x 
Gilbert, Brother John, 148 
Gilmour, Richard, Bishop of Cleve- 
land, 440 
Gonzaga, Mother Mary (Mercy), 

Grant, Bishop, Southwark, England, 


Grttusi, Father, S.J., 197 et seq. 
Greensburg, Sisters of Charity of, 

Gregory, xvi, Pope, 287, 363, 411, 

412, 428 

Grey Nuns of Montreal, ix, i ft seg. 
Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, ix 
Grundy, Sister Esther (Lorettine), 


Gulrjn, Isabelle Lefevre, 292 
CJuerjn, Laurent, 292 
Gue>in, Mother Theodore, Foundress 

of the Sisters of Providence of St. 

Mary of the Woods, x, 292 et seg. 

Hagan, Sinter Martha of the Holy 

Cross (Carmelite), 58 
Hagan, Sister Mary Patrick (Holy 

Names of Jesus and Mary), 396 

Hailandiere, Celestine de la, Bishop 

of Vincennes, 296, 309 
Halifax, Sisters of Charity of, 117 
Hall, Mother Etienne (Charity of 

Emmitsburg), 343, 352 
Harbin, Sister Agnes (Dominican), 

Harden, Mother (Religious of the 

Sacred Heart), 366 
Harley, Sister Mary Elizabeth 

(Mercy), 361 
Harper, Miss Emily, 367 
Hart, Sister Agnes (Lorettine), 145 
Havern, Sister Ann (Lorettine), 143 
Havern, Nancy (Lorettine), 128 et 

Havern, Sister Sarah (Lorettine), 


Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 472 et seq. 
Hawthorne, Sophia Peabody, 472 et 


Hawthorne, Una, 476 
Hawthorne, Julian, 476 
Hawthorne, Rose, see Lathrop 
Hay den, Sister Mechtildes (Loret- 
tine), 145 

Hayes, Patrick Cardinal, 494 
Hazeltine, Rev. Joseph, 172 
Mealy, James Augustine, Bishop of 

Portland, 376 

Herffelingen, Belgium, 121 
Higdon, Mother Agnes (Charity of 

Nazareth), 160, x6x, 162 
Hill, Ann Louisa, 47 
Hill, Rev. Augustine J., O.P., 246 
Hill, Sister Mary Ann (Dominican), 


Hobb, Sister Julia (Charity of Naz- 
areth), 172 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 474, 480 
Holy Child Jesus, Religious of, x, 

406 et seq, 

Holy Cross, Fathers of, 149 
Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, 

Sisters of, x, 379 et seq. 
Honorat, Father, O.M.I., 387 et 

Hoogstraeten, Carmelites of, 39, 41, 

47, 53 et seq. 
Hospital of St. Blaise, Dendrmonde, 

Belgium, 122 
Hotel Dieu of Quebec, zi 
House of Commons, 420 
Huber, Mother Rose (Dominican for 

Relief of Incurable Cancer), x, 

485 ft seq. 



Hughes, John, Archbishop of New 
York, 366 

Ignace de Loyola, Sister (Charity 

of Providence), 352 
Ignatia, Mother Lucy (Holy Child 

Jesus), 427 t seq. 
Ignatius, Sister Mary (Mercy), x 
Ignatius, Sister Mary (Charity of 

Nazareth), ix 
Independence, War of, 39 
Indians and Mother D'Youville, 20 

et seq. 

In the Early Days t x 
Innuits of Alaska, 462 et seq. 
International Federation of Catholic 

Alumnae, foundation of, 105 
"Intolerable Acts," 74 
Ireland, Carmelites of, 452 
Irish Sisters of Charity, 256 
Iroquois Indians, z 

Jamison, Sister Ambrosia of the 
Heart of Mary (Carmelite), 61 

Jane Frances, Mother (Visitandine), 
' x 

Jefferson, Thomas, 74 

"Jerusalem, My Happy Home," 108 

Jesuits in Montana, 442 et seq. 

Johnson, Sister Mary (Dominican), 

Joseph, Sister Mary (Charity of 
Nazareth), ix 

Joseph, Sister Mary (Providence of 
St Mary of the Woods), 309 

Jouve, Madame Aloysia (Religious 
of the Sacred Heart), 220 

Julie, Mother Marie, superior gen- 
eral of the Sisters of Providence, 

Keating, Dr., Bishop of Ferns, 364 

Keeley, William, 170 

Kelly, Sister Mary Ignatius (Mercy), 

Kenrick, Francis Patrick, Archbishop 

of Philadelphia, 282, 286 
Kenrick, Peter Richard, Archbishop 

of St. Louis, 225, 265, 272, 281, 282 
Kentucky, Dominicans of, 230 
Kundek, Father, 306 

Lacailleterie, M. Jean Delisle de, 28 
ft sen* 

Lacoste, Mother Mary Thais (Holy 
Names of Jesus and Mary\ 397, 


Lajonquiere, M. de, 12 
Lalor, Mother Teresa of the Heart 

of Mary, Foundress of the Nuns 

of the Visitation of Georgetown, x, 

60, 127, 1 80 et seq. 
Lambertina, Sister Mary (Charity 

of the Blessed Virgin Mary), x 
Lamy, J. B., Archbishop of Santa 

Fe, 151 

Langendries, Petronella, 121 
Langendries, Sister Const ami a, 122 
Lanherne, England, Carmelites of, 

5* ^3 

Lathrop, Mother Alphonsa, Foun- 
dress of the Dominican Sisters, 
Servants of Relief for Incurable 
Cancer, x, 472 ft scq. 
Lathrop, George Parsons. 482 
Laurentia, Mother (Ursuline), 46* 
Lavater, vii 

Lavedan, Henri, 99 ft seq., 117 
Lazaretto, 80 

Leeds, Duchess of, see Caton 
Lc Fer de la Motte, Sister Pranri* 
Xavier (Providence of St. Mary 
of the Woods), 305, 306 
Leffcyre, Peter Paul, Bishop of De- 
troit, 3x6 

Legasse, Mother Marie Jean Hap- 
tiste (Holy Names of Jesus and 
Mary), 396 
Leghorn, Italy, 81 
Leo XIII, Pope, 29, 448, 449 
Lepers, Sisters of Charity and, n* 
Lestrange, Dom Augusein de, 2x2 
Life of Mother Theodore GttMn, 

Lincoln, Sister Angela (Trailinc). 

*, 443. 449i 454 
Lindesmith, Father, 441 
Logue, Cardinal, 452 
Lombard, Sister Paula f.Mrrry), \ji 
Lombard, Sister Josephine (MrrV, 

Lor a s, Mathias, Bishop of Dulnique*, 

280, 281, 282 ft try. 
Loretto Mother House, ix 
Loretto, Sisters of, ix, 120 rt sftj* 
Loretto Nuns, 257 
Lottin, Canon, 298 
Louvain, m 
"Lovers of Mary/* 125 
Lucchfsi, Father, 4*2 



Macedonian, 107, in 

Machebeuf, Joseph P., Bishop of 
Denver, 151 

MacDougal, Captain, 42 

Maes, Camillus, Bishop of Coving- 
ton, 137 

Mann, Sister Margaret Mary (Char- 
ity of the Blessed Virgin Mary), 
271, 274, 279 

Mans, Bishop of, 309, 316 

Marechal, Ambrose, Archbishop of 
Baltimore, 200 et seq., 203 

Marie de Bonsecours, Sister (Char- 
ity of Providence), 353 

Marillac, Louise de, Blessed, 108, 

338, 339 

Marchioness of Vaudreuil, r 
Marshall, Sister Margaret (Visitan- 

dine), 194 
Martin, Sister Theresa of Jesus 

(Holy Names of Jesus and Mary), 

Mary, Sister (Providence of St. 

Mary of the Woods), 309 
"Mary's Igloo," Alaska, 465 
Maryville College of the Sacred 

Heart, St. Louis, Mo., x 
Matignon, Rev. Francis Anthony, 87 
Matthews, Anne Teresa, 39 
Matthews, Rev. Ignatius, S.J., 40, 43, 

et seq. 
Maugras, Madame Marie Clemence, 


Mauvide, Madame, Seigneuresse of 
Island of Orleans, 379 

Mazenod, Msgr., 382, 383, 384 et seq. 

McAuley, Mother Catherine, Foun- 
dress of the Sisters of Mercy, 360 
et seq. 

McCIoskey, John Cardinal, 428 

McConville, Sister Mary Gertrude 

Mary Veronica 


(Mercy), 365 

McDonald, Captain, 373, 376, 377 

McDermott, Sister Francis (Visitan- 
dine), 183 et seq., 202 

McDonough, Mrs. Margaret, 268, 
269 et seq. 

McEIhearne, Father, 370 

McFarland, F. P., Bishop of Hart- 
ford, 373 

McGill, Sister Appollonia McGill 
(Chanty of Nazareth), 172 

McGill, Anna Blanche, 159 

McKenna, Mother (Grey Nuns), ix 

McMahon, Sister Judith (Domini- 
can), 233 

McMullen, Sister (Grey Nuns), 30 
et se%. 

Memories^ of Hawthorne, 473 

Mercy, Sisters of, x, 257, 358 et seq. 

Messenger of the Sacred Heart, 56 

Miles, Father, 234, 240 et seq. 

Miles, .General, U. S. A., 440 

Misericorde, Sisters of, 383 

"Miss Clarke's School," Dublin, 260 

Monte Beni t 479 

Montgomery, Rev, Stephen, O.P., 249 
et seq. 

Montreal, Grey Nuns of, 35 

More, Blessed Thomas More, 37 

Morgan, Sister Clare (Lorettine), 
142 et seq. 

Morgan, Ellen, 131 

Mother Philippine Duchesnc, x 

Mount Carmel, Duhuque, x 

Mount St. Marys, Emmitsburg, Md., 


Mudd, Sister Catherine (Domini- 
can), 251 

Mullanphy, John, 221 

Mullen, Sister Catherine (Charity 
of Emmitsburg), 91 

Munos, Father, O.P., 243 et seq. 

Murphy, Sister Maria (Charity of 
Emmitsburg), 91 

Murray, Archbishop, Dublin, 256, 

Nagot, Francis C., S.S., 51, xoi 
National Leprosarium, 114 
Nazareth, Sisters of Charity of, ix, 

152 et seq. 
Neale, Rev, Charles, S.J., 40, 43, 56, 

58, 60, 63, 121 

Neale, Leonard, Archbishop of Bal- 
timore, 184 et seq. 
Neale, Sister Mary de Sales (Visi- 

tandine), 201 

Nerinckx, Rev. Charles, 121 et seq. 
Nerinckx, Sebastian, 121 
New Jersey, Sisters of Charity of, 

Newman, John Henry Cardinal, vii, 

438, 473, 499, 500 

New York, Sisters of Charity of, 117 
New York City, Sisters of Charity 

in, 104 

Nicolet, Grey Nuns of, 33 
Noble, Mother Mary Xavier (Holy 

Child Jesus), 429 et seq. 


Normant, Rev. Louis, 4 et seq. 
Nowlan, Madame, 333 

Oak Lane, Pa., Grey Nuns in, 34 
Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 382, 


O'Brien, Rev. Matthew, 87 

O'Brien, Sister Agatha (Mercy), 369 

O'Brien, Sister Bernardine (Charity 
of Nazareth), 170 

O'Brien, Sister Margaret Mary 
(Mercy), 365, 367 

O'Brien, Mother Mary Gonzaga 
(Mercy), 374 

O'Connell, Eleanor, 156 

O'Connor, Rev. Martin, 373 

O'Connor, Michael, Bishop of Pitts- 
burg, 365 et seq. 

O'Connor, Sister Scholastica (Char- 
ity of Nazareth), 162 

O'Conway, Sister Cecilia Veronica 
(Chanty of Emmitsburg), 91, 94 

O'Conway, Matthias, 91 

Odelin, Father, 385 

Odin, Father, C.M., 147 

Ogdensburg, Grey Nuns in, 33 

O'Hanlon, Sister Mary Dominica 
(Mercy), 375 

O'Neill, Sister Francis Assissium 
(Holy Names of Jesus and Mary), 

O'Neill, Sister Mary Camillus 

(Mercy), 371 
O'Neill, Mother Mary Margaret 

(Holy Names of Jesus and Mary), 

396, 397 

O'Reilly, Bernard, Bishop of Hart- 
ford, 371 
Our Lady of Good Counsel, shrine 

of, Genezzano, 451 
Our Lady of Lourdes, shrine of, 

Lourdes, 451 
Our Lady of Victory, shrine of, 

Paris, 451 
Our Old Home, 483 

Pamfili, Prince Doria, 413 
Paquin, Brother, S.J., 454, 455 
"Paradise," 73 
Paray-le-Monial, r, 18 
Pater, Walter, 473 

Paula, Mother (Charity of Emmits- 
burg), ix 

Peacock, Ralph, 406 
Pembroke, Grey Nuns of, 33 

Peron, Father, 462 
Perreault, Madame, 330 
Philadelphia, Grey Nuns of, 33 
Philadelphia, Sisters of Charity in, 


Philomena, Mother (Mercy), 344 
Pierce, President, 477 
Pio Nono, 477 
Pious Ladies, 187 et seq. 
Pisa, Setons in, 80 
Pius VI, Pope, 57 
Pius VII, Pope, 196, 236 
Pius X, Pope, 451 
Plunkett, Rev. Robert, 41, 45 
Poor Clares, 193 
Porto Rico, Sisters of Charity in, 


Port Tobacco, Md., 48 ft sey. 
Potawatomies, 223 et seq. 
Prince, Monsignor, 353, 393 
Protestant Court of Arches, 418 
"Protestant Sister of Charity," 80 
Providence of St. Mary of the 

Woods, Sisters of, 291 et seq. 
Providence, Sisters of Charity of, 

388 ft seq. 

Pontbriand, Bishop de, 22 
Provost, Dr. Samuel, 78 

Quarantine hospital of New York, 


Quarter, William, Bishop of Chi- 
cago, 369 

Quebec, Grey Nuns of, 33 

Queen of the West, 366 

Raphael, Mother (Providence of St. 

Mary of the Woods), x 
Raudot, M., 3 
Rebecca, 216 

Redemptorist Fathers, 114